Shaping Behavior: The Pathway to a Healthier Population

In a purportedly health-conscious culture, why are 70% of Americans obese or overweight? How can it be that with so many diet and exercise choices that barely 3% of Americans lead a healthy lifestyle? And, with unquestionably the world’s best health care, and spending more, by far, than any other nation, why is it that the health of Americans is merely middle of the pack when compared to other industrialized countries?

No matter you cut it, these metrics prove that our system is falling short, and we’re paying the price with increasing rates of chronic disease. What’s at the root of this? The answer, our own behavior. It’s the number one influence on our health, and outside the scope of traditional approaches to medicine.

Nowhere has this dilemma been more visible than in the plight of older men and the COVID pandemic where men have died in greater proportions than women—influenced significantly by poor health behaviors.

Before the emergence of COVID, through my lived experience and my research into the secrets of healthy-behaving men over 50, I found a new model for health. One anchored in the social sciences. A combination of psychosocial factors that influenced me and were present in the men I studied. Factors that can drive healthy behavior through a laser-like focus on our emotions and the fulfillment sought by men and women of all ages.

Social determinants of health like employment, education and transportation, particularly on underserved populations, represents an acknowledgement that population health is as much about social and economic factors as it is about medicine. All indications are that the purpose and motivation needed is in our personal and emotional relationships. Here is where individuals find the “why” for healthy behavior and our population health will be better as a result.

Louis Bezich

Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer

Cooper University Health Care

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