Michigan’s Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan

Follow these steps to curb overweight and obesity.

In 2012, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released the Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan for the state of Michigan with the goal of preventing and controlling obesity among the state’s residents. The 4 x 4 Plan highlights four healthy behaviors and four key health measures with the goal that each Michigander will adopt health as a personal core value. The four healthy behaviors are: maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular exercise, get an annual physical exam and avoid all tobacco use and exposure. The four health measures are body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood sugar/glucose level.

Why should we be concerned about the health and wellness of Michigan residents? Michigan State University Extension reports that 32.5 percent of Michigan adults are obese, meaning that their body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30. This places Michigan tenth in the nation and, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 32 percent of Michigan children are overweight or obese as well. If we don’t change our behaviors, it is estimated half of all Michigan adults will be obese by 2030.

Why is obesity such a concern? Obesity is at the root of most chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke and dementia. Chronic diseases reduce our quality of life and can also lead to early death. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 75 percent of all health care dollars spent in this country are spent on treating chronic diseases. It is estimated the state of Michigan could save more than $13 billion in healthcare costs every year if our BMI rates go down and we become healthier.

Let us look at the four healthy behaviors in Michigan’s 4 x 4 Plan. The first is that we maintain a healthy diet. What is meant by a healthy diet? A healthy diet is one that includes a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. It also means a diet low in saturated fats, has few added sugars and salt and has as little trans-fat as possible. Finally, a healthy diet promotes weight maintenance, calories eaten equal calories burned through physical activity.

Speaking of physical activity, that is the second healthy behavior in the 4 x 4 Plan. Regular physical activity will help us maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if that is our goal. Physical activity has benefits beyond healthy weight, too. It helps in the development of strong bones, joints and muscles. People who are physically active are also more flexible and better able to maintain balance, which helps them avoid falls. Finally, physical activity is a natural mood booster and gives us a positive feeling of well-being.

The third behavior is to get an annual physical exam. Physical exams include screening tests that can diagnose health issues. The earlier health issues are discovered the sooner they can be treated. The exam can also help in the prevention of future problems or complications that may develop from existing health conditions. This time with your health care provider can be used to talk about your goals for the four health measures that are part of the 4 x 4 Plan: BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.

Finally, avoid all tobacco use and exposure! Tobacco is the number one cause of premature and preventable death in the United States. In Michigan there are 16,200 adult deaths each year attributed to smoking. Second-hand smoke should be avoided as well as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco and hookahs. Diseases such as cancers, pulmonary disease, heart disease, periodontal disease, asthma and others can be greatly reduced if you avoid all tobacco use and exposure to tobacco.

Adopt these four behaviors and you’ll be on your way to a healthier you!

Read how we are doing as a state in the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan Progress Report, 2012-2015.

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