Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

To Your Health

As many of you know from your personal experiences with health insurance, hospitals or prescriptions, expenditures for healthcare just keep going up. Industry analysts report that healthcare spending in the United States is growing faster than the gross domestic product and is projected to account for 17.7% of the GDP by 2012; that's up from 14.1% in 2001. For 2004, healthcare expenditures will top $1.7 trillion.

While most of the dollars spent on healthcare in the United States are for the direct care of medical conditions, only a very small portion is targeted on preventing those conditions.

The "Prevention Makes Common Cents" report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services points out that for many Americans, individual behavior and lifestyle choices are more likely to influence the development and course of chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and asthma than are high-tech, complex and costly medical procedures and treatments.

Fortunately, more public and private programs are being designed to promote healthy habits and practices. Employers, too, have become increasingly aware that obesity, lack of physical activity and tobacco use have a major impact not only on the health and productivity of their employees, but also on the financial "health" of their businesses.

We began a new monthly column in January to focus on the health issues of most concern to Florida Trend readers. The first topic we covered in "Executive Health" was obesity, and I suspect that some new year's resolutions were made after readers checked their body mass using the tips provided in that column. Pardon the pun, but obesity is a huge problem in Florida.

Florida Secretary of Health John O. Agwunobi, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., will hold the third in a four-part series of Obesity Summits on Feb. 16 in Jacksonville to focus on best practices and potential solutions to the obesity epidemic.

Dr. Agwunobi actively leads the call for a healthier Florida, advocating for improved nutrition and exercise: "More and more companies are recognizing the great impacts of leaders embracing and fostering healthy lifestyle behaviors. By cultivating healthy nutrition and physical activities, companies have seen reductions in employee absences, improvements in morale and overall job performance. Executives can only benefit from their leadership in this health movement."

This month "Executive Health" focuses on heart health, and although it is only the second column in this series, "Executive Health" editor Diane Sears says that the column is really generating interest. "Either we're reaching an age, or our parents are reaching an age, where we're all dealing with a health issue. Health is right in the forefront of people's lives and on their minds, and our readers are hungry for information wherever they can get it," Diane says.

As we do with every topic we cover in Florida Trend, our "Executive Health" column promises to be different from other sources of information. Diane says, "It's more about taking that extra step and being proactive about your own health care."

Diane has lined up important topics such as breast and prostate cancer, stress management and long-term health insurance to cover throughout 2005. (See the full list in our editorial calendar.) We hope that this series will encourage you to be more proactive about your health, just as you are about the health of your business. Our greatest reward would be to hear that someone got tested or became aware of a health issue as a result of reading "Executive Health" in Florida Trend.

Lynda Keever can be reached by e-mail at LKeever@floridatrend.com.