Transforming to better health

Suppose we said you could make yourself healthier, save the economy and bank a million bucks by watching TV. You’d probably say: “OK, YOU Docs, you’ve lost it. Stick with medicine.” But we are sticking with medicine. Bear with us here. We’ll get maybe too serious for half this column, but the juicy ending could make you rich. Promise!

Suppose we said you could make yourself healthier, save the economy and bank a million bucks by watching TV. You’d probably say: “OK, YOU Docs, you’ve lost it. Stick with medicine.”

But we are sticking with medicine. Bear with us here. We’ll get maybe too serious for half this column, but the juicy ending could make you rich. Promise!

Here’s what’s serious: Americans spend two to four times as much on health care as Mexico, China, Japan, India and most of Europe. Why? Because we have two to four times as much chronic disease. Why? Blame four hazards of modern life: 1) tobacco — yep, still; 2) eating too much — often unhealthy food; 3) sitting too much; 4) not managing stress. Now consider the fallout from one blatant result, obesity: In 17 years, it triggers a tsunami of type 2 diabetes, then heart disease, then cancer.

In 1990, 6.9 per cent of American adults were obese. Today, more than 28 per cent are. If you feel like type 2 diabetes is rampant now, just wait. In disability and dollars, we’ve seen only the leading ledge.

Chronic diseases aren’t just ruining lives, though that’s bad enough. The cost of treating them is costing us jobs (maybe yours). Put very simply, when health costs hit a certain point — roughly eight percent of what we produce — jobs start moving to less-expensive countries. In 1990, our costs hit almost 12 per cent, and jobs started leaving in droves. They still are. By 2017, that number could hit 18 per cent.

We aren’t the only ones getting fatter and sicker. All countries are. It’s just that we’re so far ahead of other countries that we’ll lose our jobs and standard of living sooner too if we don’t do something about it — now.

We can do this. It’s not that hard. Because obesity and most chronic diseases are reversible. It just takes making healthier choices.

The huge fringe benefit if we do? You’ll stop seeing so many friends and neighbours die young, go jobless or both. Or worrying that either could happen to you.

We’re taking on this challenge. We want this to be the year that you put you first — that you take control of your weight and your health once and for all.

We’ll be right beside you. And here’s the fun part (yeah, we know, finally) that will make you healthier and maybe way wealthier!

On Monday, we launched our biggest challenge ever: a seven-step program called Transformation Nation.

It launched on Dr. Oz’s show. For motivation, one lucky person who completes all seven steps will walk off with $1 million!

We’ll help you transform your health, one step at a time. To help get it done, we’re proudly working with Weight Watchers, which shares our goals: healthy food, fitness and support.

The seven steps:

1. Get more sleep. At least 30 more minutes a night. Skimping is a hidden cause of weight gain.

2. Lessen stress. It’s strongly linked to big bellies. We’ll show you ways to reduce it.

3. Find out your BMI. If your Body Mass Index isn’t healthy, we’ll help you lose 10 per cent of your weight, enough to cut your risk of the things we fear most: cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease.

4. Enlist a friend. Don’t go it alone. Pals who lose weight together are more likely to keep it off.

5. Check your family health history. Knowing what you’re at risk for helps you prevent it.

6. Walk with us. Do 30 to 60 minutes, five days a week. You’ll cut heart disease risk by about 40 per cent.

7. Talk to your doc or pharmacist. We want you to know your “numbers” — blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar. No doc? Your pharmacist can get things going.

By doing this, you are treating yourself like the prize you deserve. Even more important, you’ll be around for the people who love and need you so much.

Go to www.doctoroz.com now to sign up.

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. For more information, go to www.RealAge.com.

The Advocate is introducing a new column today, The YOU Docs. Many readers will already be familiar with Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, who cowrote the bestselling series of YOU books. In addition, Oz was a featured health expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Roizen is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic. He is the creator of the RealAge Test, as well as co-founder and chairman of the RealAge Scientific Advisory Board. Oz is professor and vice-chairman of surgery at Columbia University, as well as medical director of the Integrated Medicine Center and director of the Heart Institute at New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center.