Preventing a disease is wiser than facing the unknown or sometimes known consequences of a disease at a more advanced stage.

Three types of prevention exist: primary, secondary and tertiary according to Dr. Lydia Kaume, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension. Primary prevention is the most essential and one that calls on our personal responsibility while the latter two are provider-assisted interventions.

Primary prevention is achieved by modifying unhealthy behaviors, administering immunizations to prevent infectious diseases, and reducing exposure to harmful environmental factors.

“There is evidence that the health care system has not been successful in helping patients change behaviors. Unhealthy behaviors are part of our lifestyle and include physical inactivity, tobacco use, and poor diet, are major determinants for risk for chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lung disease, depression and diabetes,” said Kaume.

These diseases result in premature mortality and account for 38 percent of all deaths in the United States.

MISSOURI NUMBERS

Premature mortality among adults aged 45-64 years per calendar year in Missouri is at 662, much higher than the national average of 616.

On behavioral risk and disease factors, 34 percent of Missourians have been diagnosed with hypertension, 40 percent of adults in Missouri have high cholesterol, and 9 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes. In addition, 25 percent of the population smoke tobacco, and 35 percent are obese and overweight.

A spot check on some preventive measures show only 17 percent of Missourians participate in enough aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises and only 20 percent of adults consumed fruits and vegetables five times per day.

Several resources are available to help individuals assess their health and provide steps toward healthier lifestyles. American Heart Association provides easy assessment tools and heart related health information at http://mylifecheck.heart.org/.

In addition, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for evidence based information on weight management, portion sizes, and estimated calories on various foods. The site also provides tips on how to eat on a budget, and get sample menus and recipes and even answers your questions on how much physical activity is a needed.

“Since it is intuitively wiser to prevent disease; we ought to consider adopting healthy behaviors such as eat well, be active and stop smoking to prevent these debilitating chronic diseases.

MORE INFORMATION

For more information on nutrition, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact one of the nutrition and health specialists working in the Ozarks: Christeena Haynes, in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, (417) 967-4545