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Attacking healthcare costs by making healthy choices

One of the greatest challenges facing the business community is the soaring cost of healthcare. It is a situation familiar to all of us.

As costs climb and medical coverage becomes pricier, employers and employees alike are looking for answers. One of the most promising solutions touted by care professionals is encouraging people to live healthier — making the right choices about diet, exercise and a little preventive maintenance in the hopes that healthier lifestyles will hold expensive medical conditions at bay.

A new tool in the war on obesity and inactivity was unveiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week. During a Washington press conference, Ag Secretary Mike Johanns unveiled the MyPyramid system, which has been designed to educate consumers about making healthy choices.

“MyPyramid is about the ability of Americans to personalize their approach when choosing a healthier lifestyle that balances nutrition and exercise,” he said. “Many Americans can dramatically improve their overall health by making modest improvements in their diets and by incorporating regular physical activity into their daily lives.”

MyPyramid replaces the Food Guide Pyramid introduced in the early 1990s.

We have long used this space to advocate a return to more personal responsibility in our society. Taking responsibility for one’s health has been made easier with the introduction of the MyPyramid system, and we hope that Americans will use it as part of a plan to get on the right track of responsible eating and reasonable exercise. Employers should see to it that they play an encouraging role in the process, as well.

Set an example. Use incentives. Change attitudes. The costs of care aren’t going down, but if we can start living healthier, more active lives, those costs won’t be nearly the drain they are now.

Additional details are online at www.mypyramid.gov.

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