Though significant improvements to health can be achieved through policy change (making healthier choices the default option) and through the smart use of behavioral economic principles (like rewards and incentives), many health promotion programs suffer from an inherent bias: they primarily help only those who are ready to help themselves. People who are “pre-contemplative” and not yet considering behavior change are overlooked.
This is a troublesome situation. Any program or organization committed to health should make a conscious effort to “recommit to serving the most vulnerable” people, as Project Renewal recently did. By constantly striving to reach the toughest and most recalcitrant of cases, we as a society will avoid the complacency and poundage associated with simply “cream-skimming.”
A newly released study demonstrates that approximately one third of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide are attributable to seven modifiable risk factors: depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, smoking, and low educational attainment. The largest proportion of cases was attributed to physical inactivity, which affects more than half of all Americans. Depression, which affects approximately 14.8 million Americans, accounted for approximately one in ten cases of Alzheimer’s disease globally.
These findings highlight the urgent need for more investment in prevention – and specifically in a holistic approach to health promotion, which includes mental health. (more…)