The High Costs of Poor Health

Chronic disease, especially obesity, is literally weighing us down financially and emotionally, resulting in a less productive work force with less innovation.  If projections hold true, the legacy we leave future generations is not something to brag about.

Take a look at some of these statistics…

More than half of Americans currently suffer from at least one chronic disease.  The total cost of chronic disease on the American economy is more than $1.3 trillion per year and is expected to rise above $6 trillion by 2050.  $277 billion of that is spent on disease treatment (not including follow up or other diseases that will arise since most chronic diseases are a precursor for more disease) and $1.1 trillion is spent on lost productivity.  In other words, if we had a healthy America we would produce another $1.3 trillion every year that could be invested in our future and our children’s future. Instead, this money is simply lost.

The amazing thing about these astronomical figures is that they are almost all avoidable and more importantly, reversible.

Studies have demonstrated that even modest changes such as exercising twice a week or cutting down on smoking can decrease the overall costs by up to $1 trillion, adding almost that amount of money to our GDP.  Lower obesity rates alone could save about $300 billion per year.

The problem with these numbers often seems that they are too large to ascertain.  Only politicians, doctors or healthcare administrators are interested enough in the aggregate to be motivated by these numbers.  

Well, what about the individual, what about you? 

Estimates state the average person with a chronic disease spends anywhere from $3500 - $15,000 annually.  These costs are in health insurance premiums, drugs, hospital visits, surgeries, and in many cases a reduction in salary due to the employer having to pay for their health insurance (ironically, this is often a cost people overlook since they do not see it).  And then of course the rest of the cost is shared by all of us.

This is our legacy:  a less inventive generation with a lower life expectancy that has trouble paying the electric bill. 

But don’t forget this is reversible.

It’s time to realize we are all in this together.  Our children’s futures depend upon it.


The Importance of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

The Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of foods is the optimal way to know foods that promote a balanced, sustainable blood sugar response in your body. Both GI and GL measure how carbohydrate foods are converted into simple sugars, absorbed, and then used to produce energy in the body.

The two differ from each other in that the Glycemic Index measures per food how quickly it becomes an available source of sugar for the body while the Glycemic Load measures per normal serving of food. This is an important distinction because some foods, i.e. watermelon, have a high glycemic index but a low glycemic load. This is the case of many fruits (natures candy), that they have a high amount of digestible carbohydrates (high glycemic index) however; it is unlikely that one could consume enough to have a negative impact on blood sugar. 

Low GI and GL foods are excellent for weight loss and achieving ideal body composition because they help maintain your blood sugar, energy, and metabolism.

Top 10 Low GI Foods
Top 10 High GI Foods
Berries and Cherries
White Potatoes
Legumes (lentils, beans)
Chips (corn and potato)
Nuts (almonds, walnuts)
Oatmeal (unsweetened)
Most Breakfast Cereals
Green Peas
Sweetened Soda
Sweet Snacks
Plain Yogurt (unsweetened)
White Bread and Bagels


Preparation is Key to Success

To be successful with your menu plan, preparation is your KEY TO SUCCESS! All of us are pressed for time and when we are hungry we tend to grab whatever food is easiest to reach. With preparation you will find that you will have healthy choices easily available and avoid needing to hit the closest convenient store. Try using some of the tips below so that you always have healthy choices nearby.

  • Plan your menu plan and grocery list at the same time: Save time by planning your weekly menu plan and shopping list together. It's that simple: write out your weekly menu plan and then list all the needed foods on your shopping list. This will ensure that you have all the needed food for the week and prevent you from having extra goodies in the house.
  • Carry your food menu with you, EVERYWHERE!: I always have a copy of my FLT food list with me so I can reference it to make sure I am getting the correct foods.
  • Pack your food the night before: I find that preparing my food the night before is much easier and doesn't give me the opportunity of using the "no time" excuse. I have all of my snacks and lunch for the day stored in my lunch bag ready to grab on my way out the door. If you are away from your house for a long period of time make sure to have a mid-size cooler where you can store more food. Invest in some great Tupperware that is sized correctly to your recommended portions.
  • Leftovers: Prepare soups, legumes, grains and other time-consuming meals on your days off so you are able to freeze them and warm them up quickly during the week when you have less time.
  • Store healthy snacks at work: Stock your desk area with fruits, nuts and other healthy snacks on a weekly basis. This is another way to ensure that you will have plenty of healthy options nearby. Keep a water bottle on your desk that you have to finish by the end of the workday. Keep sticky notes easily seen reminding you of your health goals
  • Be adventurous when choosing meals: This is a lifestyle change so you want to make sure that you are eating a variety of foods and that you keep eating enjoyable. Trying new foods will present more options for healthy meals. Ever try pomegranate? See a fruit in the grocery store that is unrecognizable? Try it. You just may like it! Explore recipes from the FLT guidebook.
  • Portion Control: Eating the proper portion sizes is a huge key to success. Check out this awesome chart on fun ways to remember correct portion sizes. Portion Sizes
"Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity" 
-Henry Hartman