Much work remains to be done to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #3: Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-Being for All at All Ages. Inappropriate diet, high blood pressure, smoking, physical activity and air pollution are the top risk factors for global burden of disease. It has been shown in the Western Nations that behaviors account for 50% of our health, environment and genetics 20% each and access to health care, 10%. However, 88% of the health care dollar is spent on health care services while only 4% is spent on encouraging healthy behaviors. The 4 basic components that comprise healthy behavior are non-smoking, eating 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day, keeping a healthy weight with a body mass index of approximately 25, and vigorous physical activity of at least 150 minutes per week. However, less than 5% of the world’s population achieves all 4 of these on a regular basis. Regular vigorous physical activity and a plant-based diet with the primary source of fat being monounsaturated fat, reduces chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, sexual dysfunction, and arthritis. In addition, these lifestyle changes not only prolong life but also the quality of life and reduce the burden of chronic disease and fragility. For us to achieve this on a global basis, greater emphasis will need to be placed on population education on appropriate lifestyles and healthy diet. In addition, efforts to design communities that not only allow, but also encourage, physical activity must be incorporated. Also, national and international food production must be aimed towards foods that allow healthy choices as the default option, and this will require legislative actions on a national level.
Past President, American Society for Preventive Cardiology
Professor of Medicine, Department of Cardiovascular Diseases
College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic
Prof. Dr. Steve Kopecky, MD is a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic. After his training at University of Texas Medical School at Houston, he trained in Internal Medicine and cardiovascular disease in Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. He started in Mayo’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory doing interventional procedures and in the Coronary Care Unit treating myocardial infarctions but now focused on cardiovascular disease prevention. He has written numerous articles for peer-reviewed journals and has received multiple “Teacher of the Year” awards from Mayo’s Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and the Department of Internal Medicine. His research interests include the role of lifestyle, including diet, exercise, and proper nutrition play in risk prediction and the development of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Kopecky is a Past President of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology and is the 2013 recipient of the Jan J. Kellermann Memorial Award given by the International Academy of Cardiology for distinguished work in the field of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention.