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LMU 43 – Addressing Mortality Rates through Lifestyle Medicine: An Analysis of Current Health Trends

What is Killing Us, and What Can We Do About It?

LMU 43 – Addressing Mortality Rates through Lifestyle Medicine: An Analysis of Current Health Trends

Source: Medscape – February 15, 2017

Lifestyle Medicine Update (February 25, 2017)


In the realm of public health, understanding the factors influencing mortality rates is paramount. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) regularly publishes data briefs, offering insights into pressing public health issues. A significant data brief delves into the mortality data for the year 2015 in the United States. This article explores the implications of this data, particularly in the context of lifestyle medicine, and underscores the need for proactive measures to combat prevalent health challenges.

The Landscape of Mortality

The data brief for 2015 reveals a total of 2,712,630 deaths registered in the United States. Notably, the 10 leading causes of death, encompassing heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintended injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide, accounted for 74.2% of all deaths. Although a minor reduction of 0.1 years in life expectancy was observed, the report highlights a concerning 1.2% increase in the total age-adjusted mortality rate over 2014.

A Call to Action

The concerning trends in mortality rates lead to a pertinent question: What could be contributing to these adverse health outcomes? Alarmingly, data from 2014 indicate that 70% of US adults are overweight or obese. Moreover, approximately 38% of young individuals under the age of 20 fall within the same category. These statistics raise the possibility of a decline in average lifespan in the coming decades, as health conditions linked to lifestyle choices take their toll.

Addressing Root Causes

Many of the diseases responsible for these mortality rates are intrinsically linked to faulty dietary and lifestyle practices. Consider colon cancer, which claimed 50,000 lives in 2015. Breast cancer remains a substantial threat, affecting one out of every eight women who live to age 80. Additionally, prostate cancer ranks as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men. To address this issue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocate a shift in focus towards preventive measures. While screening and early detection play crucial roles, the true impact on health comes from preventing these diseases at their roots. Lifestyle changes, including avoiding tobacco, increasing physical activity, and adopting healthier dietary habits, could potentially avert around one-third of all annual deaths in the US, translating to approximately 900,000 lives.

Empowering Lifestyle Changes

While medical interventions and screenings are essential components of healthcare, the real transformation occurs when patients recognize the profound role that lifestyle plays in their well-being. Healthcare practitioners are now encouraged not only to advocate for preventive actions but also to model these behaviors in their own lives. As the experts emphasize, prudent dietary choices, regular physical activity (120-150 minutes of endurance exercise weekly), maintaining healthy body fat levels (waist circumference under 36 inches for males and under 34 inches for females), refraining from smoking, and practicing judicious alcohol consumption are pivotal in determining one’s health and longevity.

The Power of Lifestyle Medicine

A consensus among experts is emerging — Lifestyle Medicine wields substantial influence over health outcomes. This domain empowers individuals with the tools to take charge of their health and well-being. The current trajectory highlights the imperative for a collective shift towards proactive lifestyle choices.


The insights from the NCHS data brief for 2015 underscore a pressing need for change. Rising mortality rates, largely attributed to preventable lifestyle-related factors, emphasize the urgency of prioritizing lifestyle medicine. Acknowledging the significant role that personal choices play in health outcomes is pivotal. As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure.” The onus is on individuals to embrace lifestyle modifications that promise healthier, disease-free lives. In this endeavor, Lifestyle Medicine stands as a potent catalyst for positive change, offering a pathway towards a brighter and healthier future.


  • Xu, J., Murphy, S.L., Kochanek, K.G., Arias, E., Mortality in the United States, 2015. NCHS Data Brief, No. 267. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2016.
  • Kochanek, K.G., Murphy, S.L., Xu, J., Arias, E., Mortality in the United States, 2013. NCHS Data Brief No. 178, December 2014. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2014.
  • National Cancer Institute: Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program. Cancer Stat Facts: Colon and Rectum Cancer.
  • National Cancer Institute: Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program. Cancer Stat Facts: Female Breast Cancer.
  • National Cancer Institute: Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program. Cancer Stat Facts: Prostate Cancer.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Up to 40% of annual deaths from each of five leading US causes are preventable.

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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