Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wellness is a Cost Effective Choice

I’m working on my next Toastmasters speech which includes the perspective that wellness is a choice. We do not have to be victims of genetics. In addition to the obvious benefits of choosing to be well (we feel good and are able physically to do what we want), it’s also cost effective. According to AARP, the cost of four diseases associated with obesity and smoking – diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke – is $238 billion a year. Over half of that is paid by your tax dollars, through Medicare and Medicaid.

Overweight and smoking are two risk factors most of us can do something about. As I reported in November, some 16% of adults and 23% of teenagers still smoke. In Arizona alone, that’s a million people! And if the associated diseases aren’t expensive enough, look at the cost of cigarettes today. In Arizona, the average price per pack is $6.87, and in New York, where they’re the most expensive, it’s a mind-boggling $11.90. (I remember having to sell cigarettes at my first job in a drug store in Rochester, NY where the cost per pack was a mere 54 cents.)

Thankfully smokers are in the minority. Not so with overweight, a condition 70 percent of the population experiences. While smoking has declined over the years, overweight and obesity are still on the rise. The Urban Institute forecasts that this rise will add another $466 billion to the total cost, without even factoring in inflation.

What choices can you make that will support your wellness? Next week I’ll cover the ten commandments of health.

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