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The Sickness Crisis: America Would Save Over $700 Billion Annually Through Prevention and Health Promotion

NEW YORK, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- According to every major health organization, many costly and disabling conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic infectious diseases are linked by common preventable risk factors -- smoking, poor dietary habits, physical inactivity and poor hygiene.

Yet, prevention and health promotion are seldom, if ever, factored into the fractious debate about overhauling our health care system. The system is set-up to detect disease and treat acute illness, not to promote health, well-being and prevention.

"America will never win the battle over health care costs if it doesn't address the sickness crisis in this country," says Dr. David Ostreicher, a leading public health professional and author of a new book, "Brush Your Teeth! And Other Simple Ways to Stay Young and Healthy." Dr. David Ostreicher says, "There is no health care crisis, America has a sickness crisis. We are too sick with avoidable illnesses and our present policies, recommendations and legislation do nothing to address this."

Dr. Ostreicher adds, "The answer is not to spend more money on health care. The only answer is to stop getting sick with the most common, avoidable illnesses."

Lack of physical activity costs America over $75 billion a year, according to the World Health Organization, and excessive dietary salt costs America $20 billion, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

Below is a chart illustrating the annual cost savings of $720 billion based on research from prominent national and global health organizations:

                         THE SICKNESS CRISIS

    Disease           Annual Cost       Avoidability      Savings
    -------           -----------       ------------      -------

    Colds/Flu         $40 Billion (2)      60%            $24 Billion

    Obesity           $147 Billion (3)     90%            $132 Billion

    Diabetes          $174 Billion (4)     90% (10)       $157 Billion

     Disease          $394 Billion (5)     80% (10)       $315 Billion

    Cancer            $72 Billion (6)      90% (8,9)      $65 Billion

    Preterm Births    $26 Billion (1)      60%            $16 Billion

    Drowsy Driving    $12.5 Billion (7)    90%            $11 Billion

    TOTAL                                                 $720 Billion


  1. National Academy of Science, "Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention"
  2. Archives Internal Medicine, Feb 2003
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  4. American Diabetes Association, "Direct and indirect costs of diabetes in the US."
  5. American Heart Association. Centers for Disease Control: "Preventing heart disease and stroke"
  6. WHO Chronic disease information sheet
  7. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  8. National Cancer Institute
  9. Pharmacology Research
  10. Diet and Optimal Health: A Progress Report (Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard School Public Health)

To purchase a copy of the book go to or

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Ostreicher is professor emeritus at Columbia University and The University of New Haven. He is a member of the American Dental Assn., American Assn. of Orthodontists, American Assn. of Dental Editors and American Public Health Assn.. After serving many years on the Board of Directors of the Nassau County Dental Society, he became President of the New York State Dental Assn. Dr. David has published dozens of articles on dentistry and health. He is a lecturer for Align Technology, the makers of Invisalign and a member of the Dental Speakers Bureau.

SOURCE Dr. David Ostreicher
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