Opinion: Chronic diseases are taxing our health care system and our economy

Follow the money: we need "targeted" therapies aimed at changing human behaviors to stop the epidemic of chronic diseases.
People receive medical care at the Seattle/King County Clinic in Seattle. Source: JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images

The discussion of the soaring costs of health care in the U.S. often focuses on the high costs of treating diseases, rather than on the potential economic benefits of preventing them. Changes in lifestyle and diet could prevent many of the chronic diseases driving up the nation’s health care costs, improve health, and reduce the need for expensive treatments.

As we write in a , U.S. health care costs for chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease totaled $1.1 trillion in 2016. When lost economic productivity is included, the total economic impact was $3.7 trillion. This

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