Public Health Crises: Five Big Ones Facing America Right Now
- Heart Disease
- Addiction/Substance Abuse
- Food Safety
Obesity, dementia, and heart disease – these are among some of the most concerning public health crises faced by the US today. Why are we facing some of these issues, and what are the known facts at this point? Follow along for the scoop on five of today’s most pressing public health crises in the US.
Related resource: Top 25 Online MPH Programs (Master’s in Public Health)
The advantages of living in a modernized society include more luxury and more ready access to consumables of all sorts. This becomes a problem when the end result is obesity in a significant portion of the population. According to most research, the 1980s marked the beginning of the obesity epidemic in America today.
So, what does this particular health crisis look like? U.S. News shares that around 40 percent of Americans over the age of 20 are said to be obese. These numbers and the numbers of obese children are steadily on the rise. At the end of the day, what makes this such a critical issue overall is the fact that obesity is directly linked to early death and the onset and even further complication of diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, and many other ailments.
2. Heart Disease
As discussed above, heart disease itself is often a derivative of obesity. In other cases, it can be brought on by unhealthy lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and sometimes, genetics. At the end of the day, this condition is a major problem plaguing Americans’ health at present.
Heart disease, often called by several other names, is essentially stress and damage taken on by the heart that can worsen and lead to heart attacks, strokes, and even fatal events, ultimately in some cases. Factors that help to remediate the various forms of heart disease include healthy dietary choices, regular exercise, and avoidance of illicit drug and alcohol use. These remediating factors are many of those very same ones that Americans struggle to healthily maintain so often in today’s times.
3. Addiction/Substance Abuse
Addiction and substance abuse represent some of the most notable public health crises happening right now in the US. The reasons for this current epidemic are many and complex, but the effects of it are crippling to the individual sufferer and entire communities alike. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an average of more than 130 people die each day in the US from opioid overdose alone. The economic burden placed on the country as a whole, just from prescription opioid abuse itself, is estimated by officials to be around $78.5 billion each year. With these kinds of figures, it’s easy to begin to see how detrimental this particular crisis has become in recent times.
Dementia, the detrimental mental degradation associated with many cognitive diseases, is yet another looming and major public health crisis faced by the US right now. According to a group of top U.S. Surgeons General in a pivotal op-ed featured in the Orlando Sentinel recently, the public was made aware of the impending weight of the crisis at hand. It was therein estimated by experts that dementia numbers in the public double every five years and the numbers of those affected are unequivocally unprecedented and a potentially system-overwhelming problem.
5. Food Safety
Food safety is rated by a number of government and research organizations as another, top crisis concern for the US right now. This is because of the mass number of food producers, production associations, and even weak points in the continuum of the food markets. Food-born illness spread en-mass can quickly affect thousands of people, while cases of intentional endangerment to the food supply, such as through tampering or deceitful production practices, also can have major implications. For these many, compounding reasons, food safety in the US is a major concern today.
Public health crises can certainly be a great cause for concern. However, with the application of science and subsequent public awareness, many “worst-case scenarios” can be avoided altogether. As of now, the five above-mentioned public health crises are widely regarded as being among the most important and foreshadowing to address.