Although the United States is one of the richest countries in the world, that doesn’t mean Americans are immune to illness. In fact, being able to live a more leisurely lifestyle is amplifying some of the country’s most pressing health problems.
A 2016 report from the Commonwealth Fund shows that out of 11 wealthy countries Americans are the least healthy. American citizens are less likely to have access to appropriate care, fail to take prescriptions because of cost, and report high levels of stress. These are just a few of the issues contributing to the most pressing health problems facing America today.
One look at the top 100 drugs list will show that obesity is a serious health problem in the U.S. Phentermine is currently the top medication that’s filled without using insurance. It’s used to treat obesity by controlling appetite.
Obesity is determined by measuring body mass index (BMI), which is a height to weight ratio. People who are considered obese have a BMI of 30 or more. Presently, more than one-third of American adults fall into the obese category. Experts stress it’s a unique health issue because so many factors contribute to the problem. Inactive lifestyles, unhealthy diets, high levels of stress, sedentary working situations, and other health issues can all play a role.
In the last decade, there has been a push to increase awareness about the dangers of obesity and establish programs that focus on helping children overcome obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama made the issue her philanthropic focus with the Let’s Move initiative. Experts note the habits children learn at an early age can increase or decrease their risk of obesity in adulthood.
As noted above, medications are being developed to aid people in their effort to lose weight. Doctors are helping patients by providing guidance on taking steps towards living a healthier lifestyle, including the creation of diet plans that primarily consist of whole foods with a limited number of daily calories
Type 2 Diabetes
The latest statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) highlight the pressing health concerns surrounding type 2 diabetes in the U.S. Currently over 29 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. More troubling is the fact that 1 in 4 people are unaware of their medical condition. Another 86 million American adults have prediabetes, which is indicated by higher than normal blood sugar levels.
The number of new cases each year is the most troubling trend. In 2012 alone, over 1.7 million adults were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. At the present rate, the CDC estimates that 1 in 3 American adults will have type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
There is a clear correlation between the rise in obesity and the increase in diabetes. In America, it has been directly linked to the increase in childhood obesity. People who are obese in childhood are four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in adulthood.
For those with prediabetes, doctors recommend preventative measures, such as weight loss and moderate physical activity. People who have already been diagnosed with diabetes must take additional measures to protect their health. The condition can be controlled with medications to keep blood sugar levels normal.
The leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease. Heart disease causes 25% of the deaths in America each year and is equally dangerous for men and women. Within this group of health complications, coronary heart disease is the most common.
Age and where a person lives can influence the risk of heart disease, but other personal choices come into play. Stress, poor diet and smoking all play a pivotal role in the heart disease. Type 2 diabetes and obesity are also contributing factors that are perpetuating cardiovascular complications in the U.S.
The prevalence of heart disease has led to the development of many related medications for improving cardiovascular health.
- Angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE inhibitors) are commonly used to treat high blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers can be used to widen vessels to improve blood flow and reduce related risks such as stroke.
- Statins are medications that work to reduce bad cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol.
- Beta-blockers help ease hypertension (high blood pressure).
Lifestyle is also a focus for health experts. The same lifestyle choices that increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes can also increase the risk of heart disease.
The three most pressing health problems facing America all have the potential to be controlled with proper diet and exercise. When this fails to work the proper medication can be lifesaving.