Reducing chronic diseases critical to US economic recovery and
28 May 2009
The second annual Almanac of Chronic Disease published by the US
Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) highlights the costs to the
US economy of treating chronic diseases. As an example, an obese
70-year-old will spend approximately 20% more on healthcare over their
lifetime — nearly US$40,000 — than someone of normal weight.
The Almanac is a comprehensive resource that outlines the critical
role that preventing and reducing chronic diseases can have on
healthcare reform, economic stability and the health of all Americans.
Research highlights from the Almanac includes:
- During 2007, the US spent an estimated US$1.7 trillion treating
patients with one or more chronic conditions — the equivalent of 34
million annual salaries of $50,000.
- Since the mid-1980s, about two-thirds of the increase in
spending on healthcare in the United States is linked to the rise in
the prevalence of treated chronic diseases; about one-third is
linked to the doubling of obesity rates.
- Chronic disease and treatment rates are higher in the
United States than in other industrialized nations, and may add as
much as $100 to $150 billion in treatment costs to U.S. health
"We need to address the sad reality that 75 cents of every dollar we
spend on healthcare in our nation is to treat people suffering from a
chronic disease," said PFCD National Chairperson Richard H. Carmona,
M.D., M.P.H., FACS, 17th US Surgeon General (2002-2006), President of
the non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute.
"The scientific evidence in the Almanac is clear. The health of our
nation and our economy will only improve when we move from a 'sick-care'
system focused on treating chronic diseases to a true health care system
devoted to prevention and wellness. The hundreds of PFCD partners who
come from all sectors of American society are leading the way toward
making the prevention of chronic diseases a national priority."
At the press conference, Carmona, who is also Distinguished Professor
of Public Health at the University of Arizona, was joined by Sen. Tom
Harkin (D-Iowa), a senior member of the Committee on Health, Education,
Labor and Pensions (HELP) who leads the Prevention and Public Health
Working Group; Kenneth Thorpe, Ph.D., Executive Director of the
Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and Professor and Chair of the
Department of Health Policy and Management at the Rollins School of
Public Health at Emory University; and Virginia Wangerin, R.N., M.S.N.,
President of the Iowa Nurses Association.
"We have heard millions of voices across the nation, by way of the
President's forums on health reform and other public events, calling for
immediate action to resolve our economic challenges and improve health
care in America," said Thorpe.
"What the Almanac shows is that without reducing and better managing
our country's chronic disease rates and changing our delivery system
from a treatment-oriented system to a prevention-oriented one, any
short-term economic or health reform action will result in long-term
In addition to the hundreds of charts and statistics included in the
Almanac, the publication also includes commentary from sponsoring
organizations and excerpts from statements by national leaders in the
areas of chronic disease, prevention and health care reform.
"Unless we can realign our healthcare incentives to encourage
preventive care and better disease management, our current course of
'inaction' will soon cause irreparable damage to our nation's economic
viability and the strength of our greatest national asset: the health
and wellbeing of the American people," Thorpe continued.
"As we enter into a critical phase of the health reform discussion,
lawmakers and the public should be aware of the desperate need to
address this issue and the commitment of diverse stakeholders, like the
PFCD, to see successful reform around chronic disease prevention and
The Almanac was co-sponsored by several PFCD partner organizations:
American Academy of Nursing; Canyon Ranch Institute; DMAA: The Care
Continuum Alliance; National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
(NACDD); National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems;
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA); U.S.
Chamber of Commerce; and YMCA of the USA.
For more information on the PFCD and to view a copy of the Almanac of
Chronic Disease please visit
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