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What are the costs of poor health?

It is impossible to put a price tag on the value of good health, but we can to some degree quantify the toll that poor health takes on our work lives: lost wages, reduced productivity, time away from work and medical costs. Other consequences of illness, such as reduced functioning and decreased quality of life, are immeasurable, yet we intuitively understand their tremendous impact.

The medical community identifies traits and lifestyle habits that increase the likelihood of certain diseases and conditions. Some risk factors are beyond our control (age, gender, ethnicity, family history), while others are modifiable (physical activity, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking). The more risk factors one has, the greater the chance of developing disease.

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer are associated with long-term lifestyle behaviors, such as physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. As these lifestyle diseases ravage the American population, the economic burden is apparent. Individuals are paying more out of pocket for medical treatment and prescriptions than ever before. Employers are feeling the effect of skyrocketing healthcare costs and decreased productivity due to illness. In the United States, healthcare expenditures make up the highest percentage of Gross Domestic Product of any country in the world.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.