More than 50% of Americans Have a Chronic Health Condition!

June 5, 2008 at 8:02 pm 9 comments

A sobering finding from a recent Gallop Poll – 51% of Americans suffer with chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. That’s more than half of us!

As noted in the Reuters article, Many Americans Stuggling in Life, Survey Finds, “Healthways President Ben Leedle said 51 percent of Americans are stuck in a cycle of chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes, in part because of their poor choices. ‘Many are stressed, worried and overweight, all factors which lead to illness and, ultimately, lifelong health conditions,’ Leedle added.”

An alarming 66% of working Americans reported one or more chronic disease or recurring condition, and greater than 20% reported calling in sick at least one day and on average six days in the past month!

What the heck is going on?

We spend more on healthcare than any other nation in the world, have the highest percentage of a population vaccinated, and are unusually obsessed with our health, diets and a variety of health risk markers! Yet more than half the population suffers a chronic disease?

What do you think is happening? Leave your comments!


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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  June 5, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    I would have to see what the actual questions asked were before I could make a valid comment. Most surveys phrase the questions in such a way as to get the response that the sponsor wants.

  • 2. Kim  |  June 6, 2008 at 4:39 am

    Ditto on having to see the survey questions. Are we counting all the people with mild asthma or seasonal allergies as “chronic disease” sufferers?

  • 3. nonegiven  |  June 6, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Also, is high blood pressure or high cholesterol considered chronic conditions? If you have pills prescribed for the rest of your life you might answer yes. Osteo-arthritis, a lot of people get that just from getting older.
    How many of the chronic conditions are auto-immune?
    Lupus, RA, fibro, MS, Crohns, IBS? All chronic conditions.

  • 4. dave  |  June 6, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    IMO, the evidence points to diet as the number one cause…specifically, consumption of carbohydrates plus overconsumption of calories in general. Coming in close second is stress.

  • 5. ceberezin  |  June 6, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I think it goes back to Rosedale’s contention that insulin controls lifespan, the higher the insulin levels, the shorter the lifespan. So insulin and carbohydrates become involved in the survival strategy of the human species. Human beings, as a species, have one strategy when resources are plentiful and another strategy when they are not. We know that the preferred macronutrients for the human body are protein and fat. So resource-rich conditions means lots of available protein and fat. When protein and fat were less available, the proportion of carbohydrates in the diet would rise, so resource-poor conditions would mean less protein and fat and more carbohydrates. The evidence suggests that Paleolithic people had, for the most part, a resource rich environment. But all that changed with the advent of agriculture, some scant ten thousand years ago. A diet based on processed grains meant that carbohydrates were now the largest portion of the diet. Despite having abundant food, agriculturists created, in essence, an artificial resource poor environment.

    Strategy #1

    The important thing from the point of view of species’ survival is to defend the strength and diversity of the gene pool. Under resource-rich conditions, the species can defend the gene pool with fewer, long-lived, larger individuals with high metabolism rates. Bodies have little need for long-term fat storage, since fat is plentiful. There is less survival pressure for individuals to reach reproductive maturity early and less pressure for these same individuals to expire soon after reproduction.

    Strategy #2

    Under resource poor conditions, this strategy makes no sense. Defending the gene pool under resource poor conditions would require a larger number of smaller individuals with lower metabolism rates so that more people could get to the age sexual maturity using fewer resources. Our bodies would need to create and store fat since dietary fat is less available. People would reach sexual maturity earlier and die sooner to conserve resources for those who have not yet passed on their genes.

    Insulin is the toggle switch between these two strategies. We know that pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers had a low carbohydrate diet and low insulin levels, while agriculturists dramatically increased their insulin levels with their grain-based diet. Everything that happens to us in strategy #2 is spurred by insulin resistance and the accompanying hyperinsulinemia. Metabolic syndrome, caused by hyperinsulinemia, is an efficient way of culling those of us who have already passed on our genes and so are no longer necessary to the survival of the species. Other chronic conditions that shorten our lives are also insulin based. So after ten thousand years of resource poor conditions, we have massive overpopulation and massive misery.

    What appears to be an acceleration of this process could be due to the disastrous effects of the ascendancy of the lipid hypothesis dogma.

  • 6. PJ  |  June 7, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Look at the stats on our infant mortality rate… on the low side of the world list last time I checked, for the allegedly best prenatal and health care anywhere.

    I think we are poisoning ourselves. Historians will probably see grains and sugar the way our historians used to talk about Romans and lead.

  • 7. Anonymous  |  June 7, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I am a perfectly healthy, fit 46-year-old woman with high cholesterol so my doctor would count me as a person with a chronic health condition. My 70-year-old mother has high cholesterol and recently had a full cardio workup and her doctor said she had the heart of a 20-year-old. Her mother who had high cholesterol died four years ago at the age of 96. I’m looking forward to many, many years left with my “chronic health condition”.


  • 8. Harold  |  June 7, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Perhaps it is the upside down food pyramid that is leading us to metabolic syndrome and its attendant medical problems.

  • 9. renegadediabetic  |  June 10, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    While our diet of processed foods has made things worse, also think the medical establishment has created new “chronic diseases,” such as hypercholesterolmenia. That turns otherwise healthy people into patients with “chronic diseases” and this enlarging the market for big pharma.

    Type 2 diabetes is definitely on the rise and should be a bigger concern than other so-called “chronic disease.”

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