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April 16, 2014

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SIX QUESTIONS:

Doctor: Taking care of ourselves will enrich the nation as a whole

Dr. Michael Roizen

Dr. Michael Roizen

Dr. Michael Roizen believes that America is at a crisis point because of chronic diseases. But it can be reversed by healthier living.

So he’s dedicating his career to providing the information and motivation that people need to introduce healthy changes into their lives.

Roizen is the chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic, chief medical consultant for the award-winning “The Dr. Oz Show,” with Dr. Mehmet Oz, author of the best-selling series of “You” books. At 8 p.m. Feb. 12 the two physicians will host a lecture called “Why We Do What We Do on the Dr. Oz Show” at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

This interview was edited for clarity.

What motivates you and Dr. Oz to do the show?

The only way the United States can be competitive for jobs is if we drive down our medical costs. We spend roughly 17.5 percent of our gross domestic product on health care. That’s twice as much as Europe and three times as much as Asia. That’s because we have twice the chronic disease of Europe and three times as much as Asia.

There are four things driving the problem: physical inactivity, food portions and choices, tobacco use and stress.

What’s the No. 1 thing that each of us can do — today — to address these problems?

Walk 10,000 steps every day. That’s roughly five miles, or 100 minutes of walking at a normal pace. Once you get that as a pattern it will change your entire behavior. Once you see that you can feel better.

Don’t fight for the parking place nearest to your office. Fight for the farthest space so you get the extra steps. Every time you get a one-on-one meeting do a walking meeting. Walk with your children or grandchildren.

What are the biggest barriers to healthy living?

Most people don’t believe that they can change their quality of life. And, we have engineered the environment against all of us. There’s a fast-food restaurant on every corner with food that’s loaded with saturated fat, salt and sugar. Cigarettes are too easy to smoke. We’ve taken away sidewalks, so it’s hard to even walk with your children. We’ve increased the burden on job working and increased our stress.

What can we do?

We’ve had success providing the “aha” moment by providing success stories. For example, 98 percent of Type II diabetes is either preventable or reversible. Second, we can re-engineer our environment to make it easier to make healthy choices and harder to make unhealthy choices. Don’t bring food into the house that has saturated fat, more than 4 grams of sugar per serving, trans fats or that is anything but 100 percent whole grain.

Are you seeing signs that America is making healthier choices?

In the last two weeks, in Cleveland, we’ve gotten called by the mayor and many other elected officials about what they can do to make Cleveland the healthiest city in America. That has also happened, to a lesser degree, in Las Vegas. The Clark County schools will do a major push this year. It is through a connection with us and Keep Memory Alive and another foundation.

The politicians understand that this is an important thing for job creation and competitiveness, and this is the first step toward really doing something about it. The country is at a crisis in our own budget and deficit. The cause is our health care. The federal government will spend $1.4 trillion on health care this year. That’s our entire budget deficit!

Is Las Vegas well-positioned to implement widespread change?

It’s unique because it has a higher concentration of strong decision makers. The power is more concentrated and if the power gets behind it, you could do this.

Tickets for the Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen lecture and reception are $100 and available by calling 263-9797.

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  1. The Europeans have done something that Americans are not interested in. Seven dollar plus a gallon gasoline and Universal Health Care. One in Six Americans have no health care and we are certainly not walking to the store the way most of our cities are planned.