Today’s Opinion piece in the New York Times, Our Food Is Killing Too Many Of Us, was a staggeringly honest view of how the health of our country is currently faring.
According to the latest CDC report, almost half of the entire adult population is living with pre-diabetes or diabetes, and three in four adults are overweight or obese. For the second time in three years, life expectancy in this country continues to decline.
These statistics are tough to hear. Really tough. But it’s exactly this kind of information that should propel us forward in our movement to transform not only our own health, but the health of those around us.
Here are the biggest takeaways and why it matters for health coaches:
1. Food should be the focus of every healthcare platform.
Healthcare costs are skyrocketing due to the ever-growing number of deaths contributed to preventable lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. All political affiliations aside, healthcare is at the forefront of many presidential candidates’ campaigns, yet none of them seem to be focusing on food, and how our food supply and its government regulations need to be majorly transformed.
Strategically creating new policies around nutrition and our food supply, such as incentivizing fruit & vegetable purchase through SNAP and improving the quality of school meals, is key to bringing healthcare costs down and saving lives. Check out this infographic from Tufts University for a further breakdown.
Health coaches can help pave the way for these policies by getting involved at the local level. Attend your next town hall or school board meeting to speak with local officials about the importance of nutrition for the greater wellbeing of your community.
2. Increased funding should be slated for nutrition research.
Nutrition research has come a long way, but we’re still far from understanding many facets of human nutrition, such as interactions of food with the gut microbiome, the complicated development of autoimmune disease, and how our genetics impact how we metabolize our food. This piece argues for the creation of a nutrition-specific research institute within the National Institutes for Health so that research can be funded and conducted more quickly and efficiently.
Outcomes of this research could be used to drastically improve our health through the creation of more effective medical procedures, and informed recommendations for diet based on one’s microbiome makeup. Health coaches can advocate for such research that will facilitate better health results for their clients.
3. Companies should be incentivized to invest further in their employees’ health.
Based on the statistic that half the adult population has pre-diabetes or diabetes, companies are surely paying the price through employee health insurance, especially since adults are spending the majority of their days in an office.
A stronger reward system can help bring healthcare costs down. Companies should be financially incentivized to negotiate with food vendors to bring healthy food into their offices, and employees should be further incentivized to adopt healthier habits, such as eating well and engaging in physical activity.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone could see a health coach and get rewarded by their company’s health program for doing so? Win-win.
4. Health coaches are needed now more than ever to fix our broken healthcare system.
No, this piece didn’t directly speak to the value of health coaches, but I’m certainly going to. With preventable lifestyle diseases on the rise, there is an abundance of work for health coaches, especially in doctors offices, hospitals, and community health centers.
On average, doctors only have 15 minutes with a patient. During this time, they’ll often give the patient a lot of information that is hard to process and tough to understand. Health coaches have the ability and the time to sit with the patient and go through everything that was recommended to them, from translating what “reduce your intake of saturated fat” actually means, to helping set realistic, attainable goals to reach by their next appointment.
The biggest takeaway? Don’t feel discouraged. This is your motivation to get out there and change lives. We’re here to help you do that.