Tobacco, food choices and portion size, physical inactivity and unmanaged stress are the four major lifestyle choices that account for the majority of chronic disease in the U.S., said Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, this week at the Institute for Health and Productivity Management annual conference.

Prior to implementing a comprehensive wellness program for Cleveland Clinic employees – including removing all sugary drinks from vending machines and the removal of deep fryers from all cafeterias – the organization’s health care costs were going up at about 9% per year. “It took us five years -- we’ve learned how to do it faster now – to flatten the curve and bend it down,” said Roizen. “Over the past three years, [health care costs have] decreased at sixth-tenths percent. Chronic disease had been increasing by almost 10% a year … they’ve now decreased three years in a row at an annual compound rate of 2%. So you can do this.”

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