Why are people dying in the nation's capital?

Washington, D.C. releases the nation's first city report of preventable deaths.
Written by Melanie D.G. Kaplan, Inactive

The Washington, D.C. Department of Health recently released its first report that shows the top preventable causes of death in the District of Columbia. The report, the first of its kind in a U.S. city, will help D.C. make better decisions about health programs, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said. Out of all preventable deaths in the city in 2007, the report reveals that 49.5 percent were preventable.

The study shows residents how much they could improve their health (and prolong life) if they made just a couple lifestyle changes . For example, the top cause of death for District residents is heart disease, followed by cancer; the top preventable cause of death in the city is tobacco use—which is closely linked to both heart disease and cancer.

Below is the breakdown of preventable deaths--which makes it clear that a shocking number of people are still smoking and not exercising. It amazes me that anyone would still pick up a cigarette, knowing what we know about how lethal they are. As for exercise, I’ll refer you to Jane Brody’s column in The New York Timeslast week, Even More Reasons to Get a Move On, where she wisely asks, “What, I’d like to know, will persuade the majority of Americans who remain sedentary to get off their duffs and give their bodies the workout they deserve?”

Top Preventable Causes of Death in the District of Columbia in 2007 and Percent of Overall Deaths:

1. Tobacco 16.6%
2. Poor diet and physical inactivity 15.1%
3. Microbial (infectious) agents 4.6%
4. Alcohol consumption 2.9%
5. Firearms – 2.7%
6. Medical errors 2.7%
7. Toxic agents 2.1%
8. Sexual behavior 0.8%
9. Illicit drugs 0.8%
10. Motor vehicles 0.6%
11. Uninsurance 0.6%

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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