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Confessions of a Health Nut

March 13, 2012

The other day, I overheard a co-worker of mine refer to a family member as a “health freak.” She elaborated, “You know, she’s always watching what she eats and things like that.”

The other common pejorative for people concerned about health and wellness is, of course, “health nut.” Interestingly, both imply mental illness.

OK, let me get this straight. It’s crazy to pay attention to health – to try to prevent illness so we can enjoy quality of life? Better to blithely ignore our health, and then just turn to medical or pharmaceutical intervention? As a friend of mine once said about high cholesterol, which can often be managed with diet: “Oh, you just take a pill for that and then you can eat whatever you want.”

Take a look at some facts:

1. Health-care costs in the U.S. reached $2.6 trillion in 2010.

2. 75% of these costs were attributable to chronic diseases; in particular, costs were associated with rising rates of obesity, which contribute to chronic disease.

3. About a third of all Americans are obese; another third are overweight.

4. Many of top killers of Americans (heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes) are diseases could be prevented or managed with lifestyle and dietary changes.

Do any of these facts strike you as crazy? If so, join me in proudly calling yourself a “health nut.”


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