Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How Lifestyle Impacts Your Health

Starting in the mid-20th century, the primary causes of death worldwide shifted from infections to chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. The School has meticulously documented this change, standing at the forefront of both basic and applied research. Its discoveries in nutrition, exercise, and other individual risk factors have reconfigured the public health landscape.

The Nurses’ Health Study I, ­ a collaboration begun in 1976 among School scientists and researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Channing Laboratory, ­ was the first of a series of prospective cohort investigations, now among the largest and oldest in the world. The study produced a lengthy list of surprising findings. Among these: that a high-fat diet increases colon cancer risk but not breast cancer risk; that weight gain after adolescence raises death rates in midlife; and that light smoking more than doubles the risk of heart disease. The Physicians’ Health Study showed that an aspirin a day reduces the risk of heart attack.

The School’s Department of Nutrition, founded in 1942, was the first such department in a medical or public health school in the world. Its groundbreaking research includes work on the health benefits and hazards of proteins and fats; the components of a well-balanced diet; and clinical aspects of obesity. School scientists created the first animal model for hypercholesterolemia and demonstrated the protective nature of HDL cholesterol and the blood vessel-damaging potential of LDL cholesterol.

In the 1970s, School scientists helped map the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans; decades later, they proposed an alternative Healthy Eating Pyramid based on the Mediterranean diet and including recommendations for daily exercise and weight control. In 2006, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered that nutrition labels for packaged foods list all harmful trans fatty acids, it signified a victory for School scientists, led by Walter Willett. A vigorous public health advocate, Willett not only amassed evidence that these solid fats raise the risk of coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, and other ills, but also waged a campaign to label and ultimately eliminate the ingredient from manufactured food products and restaurant meals.

Established in 1988, the Center for Health Communication has used entertainment media and mass communication to shift social norms in healthier directions. Among its innovations, it worked with Hollywood to incorporate the Swedish-originated designated-driver concept into entertainment programming, which decreased alcohol-related traffic crashes. So successful were the School’s efforts that the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (1991 edition) added “designated driver” to the American lexicon.

In a similar vein, School faculty have led the charge for worldwide tobacco control, providing the scientific expertise to convince nations in Europe and Asia to pass smoking bans for public places. In a pair of 2008 studies, School investigators revealed a deliberate strategy among tobacco companies to recruit and addict young smokers by manipulating menthol content and by heavily advertising in places that cater to youth.

In 2008, School researchers published the largest and longest-running study to estimate the impact of a combination of lifestyle factors on mortality. The study concluded that not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity, and a nutritious diet dramatically lowered the risk of dying from all causes during the 24 years of the study. In 2009, resolving a long-simmering scientific and popular debate, School investigators found that diets that reduced calories led to weight loss, ­ regardless of the proportion of carbohydrates, protein, or fat.

How Lifestyle Impacts Your Health

Lifestyle includes the behavior and activities that make up your daily life. This includes:
• the work you do
• your leisure activities
• the food you eat 
• your interaction with family, friends, neighbors,coworkers and strangers. 

Making Decisions about the Way You Live:
People make decisions based on beliefs, attitudes,and values. Our life experience and interaction with others also shapes our thoughts and actions.Personal behavior is affected by the information you learn at home and school, and from the radio,newspapers, and television. The good news is:

you can change the way you live

Thinking about changing your lifestyle?
• Pay attention to the way you live (or your lifestyle and health habits) and the work you do every day. 
• Talk with friends and family about lifestyle and health decisions.
• Discuss what you may want to change with them.
• Improve the quality of life for you and your family

Make a Healthy Choice Today!

Making Decisions about the Foods We Eat:
The foods we eat affect on our health. Many studies show that good nutrition lowers the risk for many diseases. Our food habits can bring on heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis …or help prevent them!

You may like to eat foods from your family’s country of origin, following their customs and traditions. You can usually improve traditional family recipes for better health by substituting ingredients.

Make a Family Recipe Book: 
• Collect family recipes in a booklet.
• Share the recipes with a nutrition expert and find out which recipes are healthy ones. 
• Ask how to change some ingredients of old favorites that are sort of unhealthy. 
• Make those changes to the recipes and taste them with your family.
• Share the book of healthier recipes with everyone in your family

Change the way you eat. It can be fun and tasty

Work and Leisure Activities
The work we do affects our health. Apart from exposure to environmental hazards such as UV radiation and toxic chemicals like smoke, asbestos or pesticides, certain types of work involve prolonged repetitive actions and/or reduced levels of activity that may lead to muscular or skeletal problems, strained vision, and other health problems

Even the person with the busiest schedule can make room for stretching, physical activity, and having fun. Before or after work or before meals might be a good time to do this. Think about your daily schedule and look for ways to be more active

Tips for Becoming More Active:
• Walk as much as possible 
• Park the car farther away 
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
• Try gardening or home repair activities
• Dance!

Studies have shown that regular mild aerobic exercise four times a week may help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve diabetes management.

Leisure activities such as reading, playing cards, listening to music, and other pastimes have also been shown to have a positive impact on health by reducing stress.

Steps to Healthy Eating:
• Make good nutrition part of every day living. 
• Eat healthy at home, work and play. 
• Eating healthier will make you be and feel healthier.

Tips for Healthy Eating: 
• Eat at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Try them canned, frozen, or as juice. 
• Choose whole grain bread and cereal. 
• Choose low-fat milk and cheeses. 
• Choose lean meats, poultry, fish. 
• Eat more beans and grains 
• Use less salt, sugar, alcohol, and saturated fat. 
• Drink lots of water between meals.

Other Things You Can Do to Stay Healthy: 
• If you smoke now, quit! 
• Get a handle on stress! 
• If you drink alcohol, beer, or wine only drink in moderation

Lifestyle-based analytics hold promise for proactive care

Lifestyle-based analytics may be an "emerging" predictive health model, but experts note that it's "simply taking data that we already have at our fingertips" and analyzing it in ways that weren't possible before.

The benefit? “Moving from a reactive mode to a proactive mode” in healthcare, says Chris Stehno, senior manager at Deloitte Consulting.

In the past, predictive healthcare modeling has used claims data, but the majority of the population doesn’t have good data – making predictions about life events and diseases difficult.

Stehno says their model uses consumer spending data, which is “chock-full“ of information on how individuals lead their lives. This data also provides high correlations for lifestyle-based diseases, which account for 75 percent of the total medical dollars spent in the U.S.

As Bill Preston, a principal at Deloitte, points out, when a person changes addresses, he or she starts getting bombarded with offerings for new siding – because consumer data indicates they're a new home buyer. Preston says their model takes that same data and it mines it for “specific variables that will be indicative of a particular situation or disease.”

For instance, Preston and Stehno note studies that have shown that individuals with a commute of 90 minutes or longer round-trip are 20 percent more likely to become diabetic or obese.

“Where in claims data you know for sure that they have a condition,” in the lifestyle based analytics, “this information doesn’t tell you that [this individual] has diabetes it tells you that they have an elevated risk for diabetes," says Stehno.

Preston notes that this can allow health insurers and providers to be proactive and not wait to do something until they are sick, which lowers overall healthcare spending.

But the model can also indicate an individual's “willingness to change.” For example, says Stehno, if an individual is seen to have purchased weight loss training products, it suggests that he or she has “change behavior” in mind. This can help identify people at risk when the chances of helping them can be maxmized, he says.

With the diagnoses codes changing due to healthcare reform and ICD-10, predictive modeling will have to be rebuilt, Preston notes.

"Lifestyle based analytics gives them a way to bridge that gap while this work is being done,” he explains.

For health insurers and providers, “the biggest hurdle,” says Stehno, is changing their “mindset and strategy” about how they approach people, and how they will use their existing programs to talk to people and reach out to them.

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