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Health is an important issue; neglect can be costly

Longevity in the United State plunges in recent years
Exercise is a key health factor.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the US has seen the life expectancy of an average American decrease, health risks increase, and personal health neglected.

“It would be nice if there was some education on how to take care of your body and your mental health,” said Joanna Knight, mental health specialist at Cordova High School. “I (also) think we’re missing assemblies at this school. I think it would be helpful to have an assembly for all grades about drugs, alcohol, the dangers  . . .”

A publication from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a government agency that uses science to protect public health, titled, “Mortality rates in the United States, 2021,” revealed that the life expectancy in the country decreased in 2021 by 0.6 years. The death rate increased by 5.3%, rising to 879.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2021 from 835.4 in 2020.

A survey of students at CHS revealed that 46% of the 31 respondents were considered healthy based on their health routine, while 54% were considered unhealthy. Other results:

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  • 59% did not meet the required exercise count established by the CDC in “Youth Physical Activity Guideline,” while 41% did. 
  • 21 students met the requirements for a normal sleep schedule, and 10 did not.
  • 10% said their phone usage met the advised standards of 2 hours or below, while 90% said their phone usage exceeded two hours.
  • 59% said they struggled with their mental health while 41% said they do not.
  • 44% said they talk with their loved ones about their daily struggles, and 56% said they don’t.

A 2018 survey published by the University of North Carolina, showed that only 12.2% of American adults – just 27.3 million – met the recommended standards for managing cardiovascular risk factors.

Experts say mental health and physical health go hand in hand.

“If you don’t feel well physically then you’re not going to feel well mentally and vice versa, if you don’t feel mentally, you’re not going to take care of yourself physically,” said Knight. “We get into bad habits, and we don’t know how to get out of them …”

Along those lines, Amanda Holway, a medical instructor at CHS, said, “One of the most important things is how to take care of your health. Not just physical but mental health … We do talk about mental health, but I don’t think it’s nearly taught as much (as needed). So I think that it needs to delve into deeper areas of mental health.”

Poorer health leads to elevated health care costs that can place severe financial burdens on families.

In a 2022 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation about four in 10 adult Americans said they or a family member delayed or went without medical care due to cost.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Health Care Debt Survey, conducted Feb. 25 – Mar. 20, 2022. 

According to the National Institute of Health, hypertension impacts 12.5% of the American population, major depression 9%, and high cholesterol 8.6%. That puts these conditions in the top three. 

To help address the negative health care trends, Holway said school instruction on the topic should start at an early age. 

“I think health should start at elementary level,” said Holway. “It should be a required thing … because health is something that you would have to utilize every single day. And to be able to know how to take care of yourself and find the resources that you need to be successful in taking care of yourself are equally important.”

Holway also said health care courses at the high school level should last a year, instead of just one semester like they do at CHS.

“I’ve been trying to push to get health to be a year long course because to go over mental health in three weeks does not do it… for these kids, who don’t even have exposure to mental health or how to take care of it,” she said. “I think a year-long health program is absolutely necessary.”

More health related data is available at these websites:

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Maxim Russu
Maxim Russu, Reporter
I attend Cordova High School in Rancho Cordova.
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