In 2020, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed a considerable decline in human longevity in the United States. Life expectancy decreased from 78.8 to 77.0 between 2019 and 2020 – exceeding the average change in life expectancy in other high-income countries. This is likely a result of a the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the continued increases in chronic disease. US life expectancy is predicted to have declined to 76.6 in the year 2021, which would indicate a net loss of 2.2 years from the year 2019. The growing decline in longevity in the US highlights the importance of preventing chronic disease and maintaining a healthy immune system.
According to the World Health Organization, 80% of all heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes as well as 40% of all cancer diagnoses are preventable with proper risk-factor management via lifestyle interventions. Additionally, the underlying cause of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety may be rooted in lifestyle patterns. Research studies have shown that participants completing a multimodal lifestyle intervention can experience 20% improvement in overall mental health and 30% reduction in depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has also revealed a lower risk of dementia in participants with a favorable lifestyle, emphasizing the beneficial impact of healthy lifestyle habits on cognitive function.
Every decade, the US Department of Health and Human Services launches a federal initiative that establishes key guidelines to improve national health outcomes. Their most recent program, Healthy People 2020 strives to promote healthy behaviors and minimize preventable diseases in hopes of increasing longevity. Lifestyle Medicine practices can serve as the foundational approach to achieving these goals in individuals across all stages of life. New Initiatives such as the Blue Zones Project® have already begun to improve the health of various communities through lifestyle modifications. As new literature continues to bring to light the numerous benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, there is a clear necessity for Lifestyle Medicine. Implementation of Lifestyle Medicine principles can encourage sustainable daily habits, optimize physical and mental health, and improve overall quality of life for all individuals.