As the founder of the Eat Well - Move Well - Think Well Self-Health Lifestyle Plan I am pleased to inform you of our efforts to successfully create a valid evidence-based lifestyle intervention for wellness and prevention. The scientific literature unequivocally supports our position that lifestyle intervention should be the foundation of health care in both the corporate and public arenas. We define evidence-based lifestyle intervention as the science and practice of empowering patient, employee, corporate, and community health behavior change toward those behaviors which research shows promote health, increase life and job satisfaction, prevent chronic illness, increase productivity, prevent chronic illness-related losses, and/or effectively treat and/or cure chronic illness.
Chronic illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer account for approximately 80% of health care spending and health care resources in industrial society; they also account for a significant portion of personal, corporate, and government spending and resources. Chronic illness is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. Approximately 80% of the adult working population has a chronic illness. Presenteeism, defined as lost work production by ill employees who show up to work but have reduced production, is estimated to result in the equivalent loss of as much as 90 working days per employee per year.
Imagine what this means for large employers like the government or large corporations. Imagine that you have 1,000,000 employees and 800,000 of them have a chronic illness (55 percent have two or more chronic illnesses). Imagine that you not only have to pay for their medical costs but you also have to pay their wages when they are absent. In fact, you not only have to pay for their wages when they are absent, you also have to pay for the wages of the people brought in to replace them. Further, you also have to pay full wages for up to another 91 work days that are lost due to their decreased productivity because of their chronic illness. Most full time employees also get four to six weeks paid holidays per year. In addition to this, if they have chronic illness, they also get paid for another 12 weeks of non-working days per year. This makes a total of up to 18 weeks or over 4 months of paid wages for no productivity.
There are also the staggering medical costs of the drugs and surgeries that are associated with the standard medical treatment of chronic illness. Chronic illness is a burden which is devastating for employers and employees. Businesses with 8 out of 10 chronically ill employees simply cannot compete with a business that has healthy employees.
The scenario is even worse for small business. Imagine if you only have 10 employees and 8 of them have chronic illness. Worse, imagine you run your own business and you have chronic illness. This is not a labour versus employer issue. Chronic illness is unsustainable at all levels from individual to corporation to government to society.
Clearly the businesses with the healthiest employees have significantly greater production and significantly less overhead costs than businesses with chronically ill employees. Improving employee health makes sense on every level and, when valid programs are utilized, produces outstanding return on investment in financial and human terms.
The research is clear, chronic illness is predominantly lifestyle illness. By far the greatest determining factor regarding whether or not a citizen will develop a chronic illness is lifestyle behavior; it is personal choice. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report “Australia’s Health 2010” reports that “the burden of Type 2 diabetes is increasing and is expected to become the leading cause of disease burden by 2023.” This is a condition that is almost entirely caused by lifestyle choices and can be almost entirely prevented by lifestyle choices. Even moderate lifestyle implementations in the areas of diet, exercise, and stress reduction/emotional health can dramatically reduce chronic illness and the human, corporate, and government burdens that it causes.
The lifestyle behavior patterns and health care strategies of Australian citizens are such that both the current chronic illness pandemic and current health care crisis are inevitable. Australians eat too many calories, not enough essential nutrients, and too many processed, chemically altered foods. Australians are also sedentary. According to the AIHW, 54% of Australians between the ages of 18-75 years do not get enough physical activity to obtain any health benefit and 15% do not perform any physical activity at all. Australians are also highly emotionally stressed and have poor job, family, and overall life satisfaction. These things together create an environment that makes chronic illness inevitable.
Chronic illness represents the single greatest threat to individuals, corporations and governments. The numbers are staggering, and getting worse not better with time. Something has to change; these burdens are unsustainable. The current health care system is designed to treat the effects of chronic illness not the cause. Drugs and surgery have proven ineffective and incredibly costly. Each year for the past 50 years more money has been spent in the health care system and each year there has been an increase in chronic illness rates. According to the AIHW, Australian health expenditure in 2007-08 was $103.6 BILLION ($4874 per person), yet just over 2% was for preventive services or health promotion, and most preventive services consist of disease screening. Clearly this system is not working.
The reason the current public and corporate health care systems are not working is because they can’t work, it is not possible to prevent something you have diagnosed and are treating. Using drugs to treat the symptomatic or risk factor effects of lifestyle choice will never prevent illness or cure it. Further, it can never result in less expenditure. People who have chronic illness and have the effects treated with drugs and surgery don’t cost less or get healthier with time; they cost more and get less healthy with time.
The only way to prevent or successfully treat chronic illness is to address the cause – lifestyle behaviors. The only way to successfully change citizen and employee behavior is to have practitioners who have expertise in teaching, empowering, and documenting healthy lifestyle behavior change and the positive health effects it elicits. The practitioners utilizing the Self-Health Lifestyle™ Plan have this expertise.
We would like to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of what we have to contribute in the area of evidence-based lifestyle intervention. We also would like to ensure that you are aware of our credentialed lifestyle practitioners and the lifestyle interventions they offer. We strongly feel that it is in the best interest of all parties to ensure that these practitioners are included in any discussion of providers and any coverage for such providers. We have taken a leadership role in the area of lifestyle intervention. To date, participants enrolled in the Self-Health Lifestyle™ Plan have demonstrated that it is possible to educate people regarding healthy lifestyle behaviors, and, more importantly, how to get people to actually engage in these behaviors. We have a proven track record and real data to back it up.
Some examples from our extensive database include the fact that 58% of our participants have achieved sustainable weight loss (one year after commencement of program), 73% have improved their balance and aerobic fitness, and over 85% have improved both upper and lower body strength measures. Collectively our participants have logged over 275,000 km of walking (that’s 7 times around the equator) and have performed over 3,000,000 minutes of aerobic activity. On an individual daily basis, on average, our participants have walked 2.0 km, consumed 5.8 cups of water, eaten 5.3 servings of fruits and vegetables, and performed 23 minutes of aerobic activity. Research has shown conclusively that each of these lifestyle choices alone can reduce the risk of chronic illness by 50-80%. We can provide updated figures at any time because our participants enter their activities into our database on a daily basis.
We have much to contribute and we are offering our expertise, experience, and assistance. Please carefully consider the importance of evidence-based lifestyle interventions with respect to better health outcomes, better life and job satisfaction, and cost-effective health care. We would be pleased to provide any written information you may require or desire. Please CLICK HERE to contact us.
Dr. James L. Chestnut B.Ed., M.Sc., D.C., C.C.W.P.