There are four available responses to the healthcare crisis arising from increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and lifestyle related disease.
- More efficient hospitals or primary healthcare facilities. This would mean patients would come in and out of the healthcare system faster, return less often.
- New drugs. For example, to increase metabolism or reduce desire (for food or cigarettes).
- More readily available surgeries. It’s possible that something like lap-band surgery will become routine, like an appendectomy or colonoscopy.
- Individuals change their behaviour. Primarily, this would involve eating less and more nutritious food and increasing the amount of physical activity they do.
If we are to divert from our current trajectory (of most of us getting fat and dying from lifestyle related disease) then a mixture of all four will likely occur.
On improving the healthcare system, there will no doubt be improvement in the long-term. Short-term however, it’s not likely there will be a systemic improvement to greatly improve things. Given the majority of a person’s healthcare costs come in the final years of their lives and the baby-boomer generation is about to enter that phase, we can expect the system to become less and not more efficient in the next few decades.
On drugs and surgeries, there’s no doubt these will proliferate – humans will always take the path of least resistance when it comes to change, and the ‘insta’ nature of such options makes them attractive. But such options aren’t yet widely or readily available.
Which leaves us with individual behaviour change. It’s free, immediately accessible and there’s sufficient available resources to solve the problem.
Yet, while it’s the most accessible option, it also requires a tidal shift. Normal people don’t want to eat less pizza, don’t want to say no to a glass of wine, and don’t love waking up an hour earlier to walk or run or ride before their day begins.
But I’m most excited by the fourth option.
Lifestyle change is a tide that rises all boats. Whatever you are – boss, father, sister, employee, lover, partner, friend, artist, thinker or process worker – lifestyle change (eating less, sleeping more and being more active) will make you a better version of it.