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October 12, 2020 • Cancer Prevention, Diabetes, Healthy Living, Heart Health

4 Steps to Wellness Victory

In what was arguably the most resounding scientific affirmation of the phenomenal power of healthy living to keep chronic disease largely under wraps, researchers reporting in the Archives of Internal Medicine (August 09) found that adhering to 4 lifestyle practices slashes the risk of developing our biggest killers.

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Based on this powerful study, people who…

  1. avoid tobacco
  2. avoid obesity (BMI < 30)
  3. exercise for 3.5 hours a week, and
  4. eat a diet heavy in plant foods and sparse in red meats

can enjoy on average about an 80% reduction in heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The study included 23,000 adults between the ages of 35 and 65 whose habits were carefully documented between 1994 and 1998 and subsequently followed for up to 8 years.  Specifically, following all 4 practices translated to a 93% reduced risk of diabetes (our fastest growing epidemic!) an 81% reduced risk of heart attack, a 50% reduced risk of stroke, and a 36% reduced risk of cancer.

The single most powerful practice was maintaining a BMI less than 30, trailed by never smoking, regular exercise, and then a prudent diet.

On the public health front there needs to be unrelenting, cradle-to-grave promotion of these practices from every single outlet and opportunity available. At this juncture, less than 10% of the population abides by all 4 features.

In the sage words of one of my wellness heroes, Yale’s Dr. David Katz (who wrote an accompanying editorial to the study): “It’s an incredible opportunity that we have thus far failed to exploit.”

Speaking of ripe opportunities for healthy behavior change, I read a fantastic study that documented simply receiving a weekly, healthy living tip via email, incited measurable and lasting behavior change for recipients.

Reporting in American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers randomly assigned 351 Kaiser employees to receive weekly email tips on their work computers focused on boosting physical activity, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, and reducing sugar and fat intake.  After 4 months, the employees that received the tips had significant improvements in all areas with the biggest gains in those who were worse off at the start.

This report really rang my bell as I have a focus in corporate wellness and know that the data consistently show that “simple and frequent” wellness messaging is an essential component of successful workplace wellness programs.



“I just want to send you a big Thank You!!! for this benefit.

I completed the course a week ago and loved it. Even better, I have

changed my diet and am really enjoying it. My family is also watching

the videos and making smaller changes, but they really love most of

the new healthy meals I have been springing on them.” – Ed. B