Transforming the U.S. into a Chronically Healthy Country
By: Lynda Cloud
Conventional medicine and expert advice are failing to meet the needs of a great many, especially those suffering from the chronic conditions and diseases most pervasive in our population.
Obesity, diabetes, stress, heart disease, cancer, digestive troubles, back pain, depression and anxiety — these are the epidemic health problems that drag down millions of lives.
These ailments are putting unsustainable pressure not just on individuals and communities, but on employers and insurers, on the medical system, and on our economy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that chronic diseases from poor lifestyle choices are at the heart of our nation’s health care crisis and comprise approximately 75% of U.S. health care dollars. These high health care costs are straining individuals, governments, and companies. There is a dire need for us to implement lasting, healthy behaviors.
So why, despite access to nearly unlimited health information do our best efforts to live better and implement the recommendations of health experts and government agencies frequently fail? Health care professionals, such as doctors and nurses, are stretched thin and often don’t have the time or resources to support the development of lasting positive behavior changes. In addition, the onslaught of daily stress, lack of time, and access to ready-made (and inexpensive) junk food that’s all too often within reach makes it easy to select less-healthy choices.
What if we had allies and--Health Coaches--to assist and hold us accountable on our wellness journey. For decades, Health Coaches have been helping Americans improve their health and wellness. It is time to recognize their efforts and empower their growth, our nation’s health depends on it.
Health Coaches work with individuals and support them to make lasting positive changes to diet and lifestyle. A Health Coach empowers their clients to shift from a passive recipient of sometimes invasive and expensive health care to a responsible, self-directed advocate for living well. Health Coaches help clients turn the standard—but often overwhelming--recommendation of “eat better” and “get more exercise” into a real plan of action along with the support needed to create lasting change. If our kids have t-ball coaches and our teenagers have debate team coaches, then it certainly makes sense for those on the path to better wellness to have access to a Health Coach.
Providing better access to Health Coaches for all Americans is why this week we are kicking-off a nationwide celebration of Health and Wellness Coach Week from June 3 through June 9, 2019. During this week, we’ll be focusing on ways Americans can improve their health and wellness through positive behavior modifications that combat costly chronic conditions, which are largely brought on by poor lifestyle choices.
The recent, bipartisan introduction of the Health and Wellness Coach Resolution (H. Res. 117) in the U.S. House of Representatives is a signal that our policymakers support the important work of Health Coaches. The resolution introduced by Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), illustrates that Members of Congress from both parties clearly understand and agree with the new research and a growing movement embracing a holistic approach to wellness with food and lifestyle as the new prescription of choice and Health Coaches as the guides. We also encourage Congress to expand the use of Health Savings Accounts to allow for the direct payment of more holistic services and support the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Whole Health for Life program.
Health Coaches are the future of preventive health care. The Health Coach movement now has approximately 35,000 self-identified practitioners nationally, and the U.S. Department of Labor projects a 21% increase (faster than all other occupations) for health and wellness professionals focused on preventive health. It is the mission of Health Coaches to play a crucial role in improving health and happiness, and through that process, create a ripple effect that transforms the world. It is imperative that our nation’s lawmakers continue to seek out opportunities to support the important benefits Health Coaches are providing citizens around the country and helping daily to ensure the health of the American public.
Lynda Cloud is the CEO of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world largest Health Coach Training Program with over 100,000 graduates in 120 countries.