I have a very energetic, and at times crazy 2 year old son. His latest pass time is drinking from muddy puddles.

He is a joy but of all my kids he is the most risk adverse. You have to keep one eye on him all the time. So, when it comes to taking care of him prevention is better than cure. I have for the first-time built gates, moved chairs, taken away vases and tried as best as one can to prevent him from finding an opportunity to harm himself.  In his case the effort of prevention is so much better than cure. Healthcare and your health is no different. Many great minds have believed this to be true

We may never understand illness such as cancer. In fact, we may never cure it. But an ounce of prevention is worth a million pounds of cure. David Agus

I think everyone in the health industry knows this to be true at some level. It’s not rocket science yet the statistics and trends today are showing exactly the opposite.

Dr Ala Alwan of the WHO, says lifestyle diseases are responsible for 63% of global deaths based on WHO's estimates for 2008. This goes up to 80% if you take out suicide and accidental deaths.

But how does this compare to our world 100 year ago. 

Reference: Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Control of Infectious Diseases

1900 – 33.3% of all deaths worldwide were due to Pneumonia/ TB and enteritis (infectious diseases)

1900 – 18% of deaths were due to Lifestyle disease

2008 – 63% lifestyle disease ( The trend is going up)

2008 – 4.5 % were from infectious disease

(Note: It may surprise you to know that it wasn’t drugs that had the most dramatic impact on infectious disease in our community. It was lifestyle change. Hygiene and sanitation became common place due to our discovery and understanding of bacteria and virus and their contamination methods. Antibiotics are an incredible invention and a significant advancement in the fighting of infections however preventing infection is far better than curing infection.)

Why is the trend of lifestyle disease on the increase today?  It’s because in our fast-paced, quick fix west culture we are seeking the miracle cure to lifestyle disease. But there is no miracle cure, it’s a lifestyle disease and the cure is in changing our lifestyle.   But unfortunately, there is no money to be made in changing lifestyle which means that this area of care is not given the place it deserves.

In the new rules of medical practice lifestyle medicine is becoming the new normal.  I think David Agus had the right concept but imagine if we practiced lifestyle medicine and had medication to back us up rather than the other way around (just the way infectious disease was combated). That is lifestyle medicine, it’s not one at the expense of the other rather its one that compliments the other. Lifestyle medicine is knowing the best application of both lifestyle and medicine to give you, the client, the best health outcome. What is fundamentally important in lifestyle medicine is clinical treatment time. You can’t address lifestyle disease in 15 minutes. It takes time, education and understanding to truly see a lifestyle changed. It’s vital you find a GP who is willing to look at you as a whole and give you the time you need and the avenues you require to address you condition through a lifestyle perspective.

Article by Simon Ashley, CEO at ATUNE.