How did we get this sick? The most common chronic diseases in the United States are heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and obesity. (You knew that already.) But what is the cause? Why do HALF of all Americans of one of these chronic diseases?
Gut check time (literally)!
Because we are adults behaving badly.Our chronic diseases, for the most part, can be traced to bad habits. Yup, we get sick because we are obese —one third of all Americans are obese! And, we smoke — in spite of years of warnings as to the dangers of tobacco. We don’t exercise and we eat garbage. (Bring on the sugar, fat and salt!)
But enough with the beating! What works?
Well, that is where the rubber hits the road. Especially when it comes to weight loss.
- Stopping smoking is most effective with the use of three things: counseling that lasts at least a month, some form of nicotine replacement that is gradually tapered through time, and bupropion or varenicline, mediations shown to help patient stop smoking. And, don’t even think about writing me to suggest e-cigs or “vaping.” Nicotine is nicotine, Marlboro Man!
- Weight loss is more controversial, not helped by various medical recommendations that are almost instantly out of date. First of all, let’s be clear. Any program will work as long as you stick to it! And, what works best is increasing exercise and, at the same time, decreasing calorie intake. A study out of Stanford (you know I love studies, ‘cause, hey, we’re evidence based here!) demonstrated that those that attempted diet and exercise changes at the same time made people fitter than just changing diet or increasing exercise. In the study, patients exercised 150 minutes per week or the “30 minutes most days of the week.” Also, an important point: the study participants received a phone call coaching them on the dos and don’ts of diet and exercise.
Bottom line, big picture: If you want to stop smoking, use nicotine replacement AND counseling AND medications. If you want to lose weight, improve your diet with fruits. vegetables and lean proteins, (you notice sugar was not included as a food group!) AND start exercising!