More Prescription Drugs than Ever….Because We’re Too Big

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Fat ladiesOver the course of the last several years, most of us have heard the statement, “I don’t like taking prescription drugs” or “I’m trying to find an alternative to a prescription”.  It may be possible that you’ve made that very exclamation yourself!  In spite of the growing frequency that you hear this said, the reality is….Americans are using more prescription drugs than EVER before.

A recent study by researchers at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health shows that 59% of adults used a prescription drug in a 30 day period!  Findings from a decade earlier showed that number at 50% of adults….so an actual increase of 9% of our adult population!  Said another way in looking at those numbers, there was a 20% increase in the number of adults using prescription drugs in a given month.  Of equal concern was the elevation in the number of people taking multiple medications in a month.  The actual share of Americans who took more than five prescriptions meds in a month nearly doubled….to 15% of American adults.  This creates great concern due to the possible number of drug interactions that are possible with such a great number of medicines.  Anyone who has watched television knows the huge number of potential side effects with just one medication.  Now, take the side effects of five medications and have the television announcer mix them all together….you wouldn’t know what you were hearing!!  That’s also the problem in reality….no one really knows what potential reactions occur when that many drugs are combined.

“When we’re starting to see more and more adults using five or more drugs, it does raise a concern about the potential for drug interaction,” says Elizabeth Kantor, the lead researcher and an epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

One potential cause of this significant escalation in prescription drug use is the significant escalation in the average American’s waistline.  Over the course of that same decade, the number of American’s classified as obese and over-weight rose to approximately 70% of the population!  “This might raise the question of how much of this increase in prescription drug use might be attributable to obesity, as we know that the prevalence of obesity has increased among adults in the US,” she added.  Among other diseases, obesity is directly linked to disorders such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes.  These are simply the most obvious where even dementia and Alzheimer’s, cancers and digestive diseases are associated with over-weight and obese body states.    Interestingly, it wasn’t simply medications to treat these disorders that emerged in the study.  There was also a significant increase in anti-depressants and muscle relaxers…so the rate of prescription dispensing increase is across the board.  It’s the cost in human suffering and loss of genuine life enjoyment that is of greatest concern; but there was a monumental elevation in the monetary cost, too.  From 2013 to 2014 alone, there was noted a 10.9% elevation in prescription drug cost….totaling nearly $374 billion in 2014!!  ($374,000,000,000 to actually SEE that number!)

Is there a quick easy answer that can be provided in the next two or three sentences?  ….absolutely not.  But it IS clear that weight reduction is absolutely critical to improve our personal well-being and eliminate much of the need for these medicines.  Often it isn’t even the quantity of foods but the type of foods that is our undoing.  Simple, unprocessed food that we prepare ourselves is ALWAYS the best option!  The great news is that the change is so very doable….and the power is in us already!  We are not stuck in a downward spiral of illness over which we have little control…we CAN change the direction of our health!!  Or better yet….never get off that course to begin with!

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