Chronic conditions the big story of 2008

While not entirely preventable, chronic ailments would not cost nearly as much to treat as they do if Americans practiced wellness. That means exercising, eating less, getting thinner.

Rev. Cantrell Johnson of Decatur, GaLooking back on 2008 at ZDNet Healthcare one fact is clear.

It may be irrelevant to the blog's charge of health IT, but stories about chronic health conditions are what you read most avidly here.

Three of our four most-read blog posts featured such chronic conditions:

  1. Have you tried the IHOP story, our fourth most-read post, was about obesity, suggesting that a big breakfast makes a calorie-restricted diet more tolerable.
  2. Terrell Owens is not your doctor, our third most-read post, was about energy, noting the dangerous amount of caffeine in some energy drinks, including one the receiver was about to endorse as the post was written.
  3. Diabetes is also heart disease, with my saintly neighbor the Rev. Cantrell Johnson pictured, covered the link between our two most common chronic conditions. He has the first, I have the second. It drew more readers than any post.

It is no surprise to me why these stories drew readers. Chronic health conditions represent an enormous percentage of our nation's health bill. Some estimates are that diabetes alone represents one health care dollar in every four.

While not entirely preventable, chronic ailments would not cost nearly as much to treat as they do if Americans practiced wellness. That means exercising, eating less, getting thinner.

Rev. Johnson has. The picture may not show it, but he has lost considerable weight over the last few years. Credit goes to Mrs. Johnson's changing how she cooks for him. Theirs is a love story for the ages.

Which leads me to my own New Year's Resolution, which may not be a magic cure for what ails you but will help make 2009 better.

People. If this is your only human connection, turn off the PC and get out of the house. You'll feel better.

Rev. Johnson has 10 people living with him, in a house no larger than mine, ranging in age from a middle-schooler to an elder approaching her 90th birthday.

Being responsible for all these people gave Rev. Johnson the self-discipline he needed to change his habits and stay with us. For this I am most grateful.

It's trite and a bad song lyric, but people who need people really are the luckiest people in the world.

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