Chronic conditions are defined broadly as those that persist for a year or longer, require continuous medical care, limit everyday activities, or both. One or more chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke, affect six out of ten Americans. These and other chronic illnesses are the main contributors to health care costs as well as the major causes of death and disability in the United States.
Many chronic diseases are caused by risk behaviors:
- Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke
- Poor nutrition, including diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in sodium and saturated fats
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
Our Chronic Disease Prevention Department
We aim to address the community health problems head-on. We put a lot of effort into addressing the systems, settings, and health behaviors that are connected to major chronic diseases and their causes. The effects of our program are felt by people of all ages in a wide range of environments. These include:
- Health care.
- Local communities.
- Early care and education.
- Work sites.
Top 4 Tips to Prevent Chronic Diseases
Tip 1: Do not smoke: Stop smoking if you don’t already. Get the help you need to stop smoking if you do. Your chance of developing heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other smoking-related diseases decreases when you stop smoking. It’s never too late to stop using tobacco.
- Create a plan to quit.
- Contact The Georgia Tobacco Quit Line. Free nicotine patches and gum are available to all Georgia adults (age 18 and older) when appropriate, regardless of health insurance status or coverage.
Tip 2: Eat healthy: Maintaining health at any age requires a good diet. A nutritious diet has several advantages. People who follow good eating habits live longer and are at lower risk for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and multiple types of cancer.
- Rather than drinking sugary beverages, opt for water (tap, bottled, sparkling, or unsweetened).
- Concentrate on all fruits. They can be canned, dried, frozen, or fresh.
- Consume a variety of veggies and incorporate them into a variety of foods, such as casseroles, sandwiches, and wraps.
- For staples like bread, pasta, and tortillas, choose whole-grain varieties.
- Eat a range of protein-rich meals, such as beans, soy, shellfish, lean meat, chicken, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
Tip 3: Be active: One of the best things you can do for your present and future health is to engage in physical activity. Regardless of age, ability, shape, or size, everyone can benefit from physical activity’s positive effects on health.
- Aerobic Exercise: Exercise that increases your heart rate and deepens your breath, such as brisk walking, biking, dancing, or yard work.
- Muscle Strengthening: Exercises that build muscle, such as weightlifting, using tension bands, pushups, and squats, work all the major muscular groups.
Tip 4: Limit drinking: Over time, heavy drinking can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and a number of cancers.
Alcohol abuse includes:
- Binge Drinking: consuming four or more drinks in one sitting for women and five or more in one sitting for men.
- Heavy drinking is characterized as 8 or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more for men.
- Anyone under 21 or pregnant who consumes alcohol.
Overweight and Obesity
In the United States, obesity and overweight are prevalent conditions that are characterized by an increase in the size and number of fat cells in the body. Many factors such as habits including eating habits, insufficient sleep or physical exercise, some medications, genetics, and family history all contribute to being overweight or obese. Obesity is a chronic health condition that increases the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US, and is related to a number of other conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and cancer. In the United States, nearly 3 out of four people who are 20 or older are either overweight or obese. Obesity affects around 1 in 5 kids and teens between the ages of 2 and 19.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices can increase your chance of being overweight and obese, such as not getting enough exercise and consuming foods and drinks that are rich in calories but poor in nutrients. Some individuals discover that their weight increases if they begin taking medication for a different medical problem, such as diabetes, depression, or high blood pressure. Before considering quitting any medication you are taking for a different ailment that you believe is also having an effect on your weight, speak with your doctor. Adopting a heart-healthy diet with fewer calories and unhealthy saturated fats as well as increasing physical activity are lifestyle changes that can help people lose weight.
Combatting Overweight and Obesity in Our Community
In Cobb and Douglas, 36.7% of the adult population is overweight and 30.0% are obese (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 2017). Obesity and being overweight have been associated with an increased risk of certain chronic diseases and other health problems, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and cholesterol (National Institute of Health Managing Overweight and Obesity: Systematic Evidence Review in Adults, 2013).
Adequate consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables is directly linked with healthier weights and decreased chronic diseases. Lower socio-economic status is linked with poorer nutrition choices due to the expense of many healthier options (USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans Report 2020). Regular physical activity is key to one’s overall health and in weight maintenance (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. 2018).
To assist with the betterment of our communities’ health, Cobb & Douglas Public Health, through the Cobb 2020 and Live Healthy Douglas Partnerships, collaborates on strategies and efforts to assist with improving fresh food access, increasing safe and accessible places for physical activity, and developing policies, systems, and environmental changes within worksites and the broader community.
- CDC Chronic Disease Prevention System: Use this resource to understand the four domains of chronic disease prevention. cdc.gov/chronicdisease/index.htm
- Preventing Chronic Disease Journal: Stay up-to-date with the latest issue of Preventing Chronic Disease. cdc.gov/pcd/
- Health Equity: Learn how to eliminate health disparities and ensure everyone is able to reach ultimate health with this tool. cdc.gov/chronicdisease/healthequity/
- American Cancer Society cancer.org
- American Diabetes Association diabetes.org
- American Heart Association heart.org