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Health History -- The Rise Of Chronic Disease
A view of health history -- along with a detailed account of America's health status one to two centuries ago--provides a good indication of what has caused our decline. Common sense would seem to dictate that as time progresses, and technology improves, overall health should improve. But a look of health history shows such is not the case.
Looking back in time we should see the development of chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, increasing. In other words, as time progresses, these diseases should show a downward slope indicating less people are contracting them. But the exact opposite is happening.
A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more in American men in their 50s in 1860 was 1.6 percent. A BMI of 30 indicates obesity. By 1900, just 40 years later, it had tripled. Obesity has risen at a steady pace ever since.
Most medical researchers now realize that obesity is related to the development of chronic disease such as heart disease, high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, and others.
High blood pressure was also rare prior to the 20th century. Only 5 percent of the population had a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher. By 1939, 10 percent of adults had blood pressures greater than 140/90. Today it has been estimated that 31 percent of American adults are hypertensive!
Did you know that prior to 1940 the cardiologist (a heart specialist,) did not exist. Why? There was no need for them. In 1950, there were 500 cardiologists in the United States. Currently there are about 35,000! These cardiologists perform over one million heart surgeries annually.
There were only 2 cases of diabetes per 100,000 people in 1892! This fact was gleaned from the textbook The Principles and Practice of Medicine by Sir William Osler. Today, 1 out of every 3 children is diabetic, and the rate is 9 percent across all age groups.
Diabetes among adults 20 and older is 11 percent. For senior citizens 60 and over, the rate is 23 percent.
A couple of centuries ago sugar was very expensive, and only the wealthy could afford it. Before 1800, sugar consumption was about 4 pounds per person annually. As sugar plantations began to emerge by 1800, that number had grown to 18 pounds. By 1900 sugar consumption was about 90 pounds per person annually. It was even realized in the 1800s that diabetes was related to sugar consumption.
Sadly, modern society has a lot more to contend with than ordinary table sugar. Dozens of artifical sweeteners have been discovered, some accidentally, and marketed. One of the most prevalent is high fructose corn syrup.
Fructose from fruits in and of itself is harmless. The average consumption in the last century was 15 grams per individual; today with high fructose in everything from sodas to fruit juices, the average consumption is closer to 135 grams per day!
This excess high fructose corn syrup is one of the primary drivers of the development of obesity, high blood pressure, and pancreatitis.
In this 21st century, 1 out of every 4 Americans is either diabetic or pre-diabetic. A look at health history is disheartening. Technology is causing our overall health to regress.Healthy living > Health history