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Published: Saturday, 9/13/2008

More effort on preventing chronic disease is urged

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Asthma, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases which affect 133 million Americans, including 7 million Ohioans account for three-fourths of U.S. health care spending, expected to reach nearly $2.4 trillion this year.

But while many chronic diseases can be warded off, including an estimated 80 percent of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes cases, Americans continue to manage instead of prevent them, Dr. Michael Parkinson, president of the American College of Preventative Medicine, said yesterday in Toledo.

That makes efforts by the national Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease to raise awareness about improving nutrition and fitness critical, Dr. Parkinson told an audience of about 45 people.

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in America, he said.

At the end of the day, it s not about charts, it s not about populations, Dr. Parkinson said. It s about individuals working together to make a difference.

Dr. Parkinson was keynote speaker for a forum on chronic disease at the Dana Conference Center on the University of Toledo s Health Science Campus, formerly the Medical College of Ohio.

Since November, Ohio has had a chapter of the partnership, which is trying to bring chronic disease and its associated costs to the forefront of nonpartisan politics.

No matter what kind of health-care system the United States has, Americans need to stay within five pounds of their ideal weight, exercise at least 30 minutes most days, eat a primarily plant-based diet, stop smoking, and have no more than two alcoholic drinks a day, Dr. Parkinson said.

Claiming that diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic problems are hereditary is no excuse to be sedentary, eat unhealthy foods, and become overweight, Dr. Parkinson said.

All the things that we think are genetic, it s more likely because the families act alike, he said.

Health-care providers need to talk about solutions to chronic disease-related problems as well as share techniques to improve prevention, Dr. Parkinson said.

We ve got to learn, from Toledo to Tuscaloosa, he said. We ve got to learn the things that really work.



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