You’re Never Too Young to Get Healthy

Alvin B. Lin, MD, FAAFP
Dr. Lin is an associate professor of family and community medicine at University of Nevada School of Medicine and an adjunct professor of family medicine and geriatrics at Touro University Nevada College of Medicine. He also serves as an advisory medical director for Infinity Hospice Care and as medical director of Lions HealthFirst Foundation. Dr. Lin maintains a small private practice in Las Vegas, NV. The posts represent the views of Dr. Lin, and in no way are to be construed as representative of the above listed organizations. Dr. Lin blogs about current medical literature and news at

If you're like most working Americans, you haven't saved much for your retirement, but when asked, 3 out of 4 said that given the opportunity to go back in time, they'd save more the 2nd time around. After all, who puts away 16.6% of their income each paycheck? Well, here's some motivation: the average monthly check from Social Security is just $1,230. Of course, if you don't plan to live past retirement, then why worry, right?

As a corollary, many of us think of poor health as something that happens in the future, but instead of investing in our future, we make excuses like not having enough time now to eat right and exercise because we're too busy. In a prospective observational study published early online in Pediatrics, the authors concluded that the risk of dying before 55 years old was associated with obesity, smoking, & diabetes in adolescents and young adults.

By following 9245 participants aged 12 to 39 years old in NHANES III for 12 to 18 years, the authors noted that smoking increased risk of early death by 86% compared to non-smokers, as expected. Those with a weight-to-height ratio (WHR) of >0.65 had more than double the risk of early death compared to those with WHR <0.5, and those with HgbA1c (a running 3 month average of sugar control) >6.5 had close to a 4-times greater risk of early death compared to those with HgbA1c <5.7.

Of course, the relative risk noted above was derived after adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and comorbidities. Bottom line: we need to invest in our children's health if they are to avoid an early demise.

PS. Remind them to save more money since they're going to live longer!