Cardiovascular disease remains the #1 killer of Americans, even though it’s largely preventable. No one wants to die, so what’s going on?
(Clearwater, FL) December 14, 2015—A recent study announced at the annual American Heart Association meeting reveals that 94 percent of us are not taking very good care of ourselves. (1)
More research and education on healthy lifestyles and heart disease prevention have been disseminated over the past two decades than at any time previously. It comes down to a healthy lifestyle that includes seven basics: not smoking, healthy diet, managing weight, being active, and maintaining ideal levels of glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure.
However, investigators from the Department of Family Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, compared the results of two large-scale studies of the U.S. population done in 1988-1994 and 2001-2006. In the intervening 18 years, the percentage of adults aged 40-74 with a body mass index greater than 30 (obese) has increased from 28 percent to 36 percent, and physical activity 12 times or more per month has declined from 53 percent to 43 percent.
American society today has become more passive and voyeuristic, spending a large portion of each day in front of computers, phones, tablets and TV screens or behind windshields. Occupational exercise has dwindled.
Why are the trends going the wrong way? Robert Drapkin, M.D., a highly-respected board-certified physician in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care, believes that although sufficient exercise is vital, poor diet acts as a barrier. Dr. Drapkin sees three main reasons for this:
- Marketing companies spend billions of dollars in order to alter consumer perception as to what is healthy to eat. But because most people have no idea which foods are actually healthy, insulin-resistant diabetes, heart disease and obesity have become major health problems. Today, there is an epidemic of obesity leading to an epidemic of metabolic diseases. All of these problems can be prevented or lessened.
- The obesity epidemic in this country has been aided by the low cost of high-glucose-containing carbohydrates. These foods (such as corn) are inexpensive, because their production and storage are subsidized by the U.S. government by way of the Farm Bill. For the past 50 years, U.S. farm policy has been directed towards driving down the price of farm-storable carbohydrates. At the same time, the cost of growing fruits and vegetables has increased, as have fruit and vegetable retail prices. Low costs incentivize the food industry to use more of these unhealthy commodities. For example, high-fructose corn syrup is now commonly added to many processed foods.
The food industry spends over $1.6 billion to market various foods to children. Most of these products are processed foods high in calories and sugar, which often lead to obesity. Every month, approximately 90 percent of American children between the ages of 3 to 9 years visit a McDonalds. (2)
- The third reason that Americans eat poorly is the belief that “labels do not lie.” Marketing companies have created labels employing carefully-chosen words that make people think they are eating healthy food when, in fact, they are not. For example, the stamp “whole grain” from the Whole Grain Council means that the product must contain eight grams of whole grain per 30 grams of product, and thus such products are generally actually not whole grain. The label “Heart Healthy” sold by the American Heart Association for use on foods refers to the fat and salt content of a product, and not its sugar content—thus, one real cause of heart disease is not accounted for. Food labeled as “natural,” according to the USDA definition, does not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives, and its ingredients are only minimally processed; yet they may contain antibiotics, growth hormones and other similar chemicals. (3)
Dr. Drapkin is renowned for helping many people and, in particular, patients over 50, to transform their unhealthy habits into pro-survival life strategies. Dr. Drapkin stated:
Leading a healthy lifestyle makes sense, of course. It’s easier and far more enjoyable once a commitment is made.
First, decide on health goals. Not everyone wants to climb Mt. Everest, but most people—particularly those over 50—want more energy, better sleep and a sense of wellbeing.
Second, get help. There’s a lot of misleading information out there. Find a health care professional who understands diet and exercise and isn’t buying into the mountain of false data in the field. A blood test can help to determine deficiencies and act as a starting point for which supplements to use for activity and lifestyle goals.
Third, get on a diet with an elevated protein intake and lower carbs. This will take some adjustment, but will eventually come naturally to you. Consult your health care professional or a dietician for guidance.
Fourth, little by little, start an exercise routine that leaves you feeling more vigorous and upbeat at the end, not worn out. It should involve full body motion and a cardio workout.
Dr. Drapkin says that doing the above would put anyone in the “exceptional” category—someone likely to enjoy a long and vigorous life.
About Robert Drapkin, M.D., F.A.C.P.:
Robert Drapkin, M.D., is a health care provider who is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care. He is in active practice, working to save lives and improve quality of life through the education of his patients. He provides up-to-date knowledge and guides his patients through their illnesses, exercises and diets. He has been in active practice as a doctor for over 36 years. Dr. Drapkin is currently 70 years old, and started training as a bodybuilder when he was in his fifties. He has been a competitive body builder for 17 years, and has won many titles and contests. He recently trained for a national event in July, 2015. For more information, visit his website.
- Hayden, Joanne, Ph.D. “We Get an ‘F’ for Healthy Lifestyles.” TAPinto. N.p., 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. https://www.tapinto.net/towns/sparta/columns/health-news-you-can-use/articles/we-get-an-f-for-healthy-lifestyles.
- Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Boston: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Print.
- “What Is Obesity?” HBO: The Weight of the Nation: Themes. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/themes/what-is-obesity.
Karla Jo Helms