AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 26 Health care cost and availabilityis on our nation's political radar, and LoneStart Wellness is proposing apolitically attractive and patriotic solution to our national health carecrisis. The current epidemic of obesity and inactivity is straining finitehealth care resources and forcing hard choices on the part of policy-makers,health care providers, federal, state and local agencies, employers, employeesand their families.
By promoting what it calls "Viral Wellness," LoneStart is proving thatwellness, like illness, can be contagious, and is challenging both politicalparties and all candidates running for national, state and local office toembrace a practical and patriotic solution to our country's current healthcare crisis. Jay Seifert, LoneStart co-founder, points out that without anygovernment funding, each of us can play a role in turning the epidemic ofobesity and overweight around. He adds that 57 percent of deaths result fromchronic disease, and that 80 percent of all chronic disease is caused by threepreventable health behaviors -- poor nutrition and overeating, physicalinactivity and smoking -- behaviors each of us has the power to change.
"We are at a point in this country where a national campaign is needed tohelp people realize that they have the opportunity and the ability to makepositive and realistic changes in their daily lifestyle choices," saysSeifert. "The solution to our health care crisis is prevention, and that willonly happen when at-risk individuals are informed, motivated and challengedwith a positive, realistic and forgiving opportunity to change theirbehavior."
Rebecca Davis, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Cooperative of HealthNetworks Association, says that effective, affordable employee and communitywellness is a real need among their member organizations. "Important benefitsaccrue for our members' partners when they are able to promote a new 'cultureof wellness' among their employees, their families and the communities theyserve. We like the fact that LoneStart recognizes that we all have theresponsibility and the opportunity to make wellness available, achievable andsustainable."
The concept of Viral Wellness grew out of LoneStart's experience thatwellness is contagious. "We came to realize that most of us want to be well,and if we have a reasonable expectation of success, we will make positivechanges in our daily choices regarding our health. Once we prove to ourselveswe can be successful, we tend to become enthusiastic advocates for thestrategy that helped us meet our goals and we "spread" wellness on to familyand friends," says Seifert.
As an example of LoneStart's effectiveness, Seifert says that of just therural and community hospitals that have implemented the LoneStart Wellnessstrategy, more than 8,000 pounds have been lost and body mass index (BMI) hasbeen reduced from between .5 to more than 6 points.
"For the past three years, LoneStart Wellness has been making a differencein several of our member hospitals. They have demonstrated that people willrespond to the opportunity to make positive choices when those choices arebased on valid and easy-to-apply behavior modification principles as they worktoward establishing long-term behavior change. What started as a grassrootseffort has grown into an effective strategy for lasting change based onindividual accountability and teamwork," says David Pearson, CEO, TexasOrganization of Rural & Community Hospitals. He adds that, "we are allstakeholders in this effort, and together we can turn the epidemic of obesityand inactivity around and reduce our risk for serious chronic illnesses. Atthe same time, we can effectively reduce our health care costs and the impactthose costs have on our economy."
The U.S. spends more than $2 trillion annually on health care, and theannual economic impact on the U.S. econ