Rethinking Healthcare

The 10 Biggest Killers of Daily Life

Posting in Food

Much of what the Administration calls “health reform” is actually an attempt to get our arms around this. The idea is that if you see someone concerned with your wellness regularly you might get the message and do something about it.

Beyond the big health reform debate the reality is American lifestyles are killing us.

Maybe it does not matter how we organize our health care system. Our daily lives work aggressively against anything resembling wellness. We don't take time to manage our health, and in our pursuit of “more” we get fatter, slower, and unhealthier by the day.

Much of what the Administration calls “health reform” is actually an attempt to get our arms around this. The idea is that if you see someone concerned with your wellness regularly you might get the message and do something about it.

After dinner last night I asked myself what are the 10 biggest killers in our daily lives. Feel free to add your own, or attack any I have listed. Health reform does not need to be a government concern if we just treat ourselves a little better:

  1. Restaurant portions NutriSystem makes a fortune selling mediocre food as a weight loss product. Their secret is portion size. People eat what is put in front of them and if you buy big you eat big and you get big.
  2. Long commutes – Take a 9 hour workday, add a 2-hour commute each way, and 13 hours of your day is gone. No wonder people don't have time for exercise.
  3. Stress – Stress sets up the fight-or-flight response. This is a good thing. But you can overdose on it. People do, all the time.
  4. Distracted Driving – It's not just alcohol. Phones can be just as bad. If you're car-pooling add chatting with your fellow passengers. Your tin can is going up to 70 mph and you're putting on lipstick?
  5. Cul de Sacs – They make you drive two miles to see the people behind your fence. They force traffic into a small number of roads choked with pollution. Small wonder people don't walk.
  6. Smoke – Not just cigarettes. All kinds of smoke are deadly. Barbecue smoke, smoke from forest fires, the blue smoke of engine exhaust.
  7. Gas Stations – Can you find anything in a gas station food store that's not loaded down with corn syrup and/or salt? OK, beer and lottery tickets. Some sell individual bananas, but that's about it. And in some poor areas these are the only places to buy packaged food.
  8. Rageahol – TV news shows push anger like a drug. So do some other shows. We all become junkies to our anger. Even sports and religion aren't immune. See stress.
  9. Drinking alone – Man is a social animal. My mom says that when your old friends die it's God's way of saying make new friends. But even she admits that is hard.
  10. Denial --  It's not just a river in Egypt. Many of us deny the risks above, or will call my mention of them “nannying.” When authority figures harp on them it's called a “nanny state.” That doesn't make these risks any less real.

How many of these do you suffer from? Do you even know you're suffering? Are you doing anything about them? Any you think are not real?

Sure, you can say, mind your own business, but when these causes drop you and you're uninsured my policy pays. And I can't afford that any more. So what are you going to do about it?

Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure