By Byron McNutt

DHI Media

Research company RAND Corporation recently issued a report that says 42 percent of Americans have multiple chronic medical conditions. That means they have physical or mental health conditions such as diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure that lasts over a year and requires ongoing treatment.

Twelve percent of Americans have five or more chronic conditions, generating 41 percent of the total health care spending in the U.S. As the population ages, the numbers will continue to grow.

Robert Kaplan of Stanford’s School of Medicine, author of the book More Than Medicine, acknowledges that the U.S. spends a massive sum on health care but he has concluded that it would be wiser if people would make behavioral changes and commit to healthier living to bring down costs.

There is more to be gained from a greater focus on preventing illnesses than from spending enormous sums after they strike. Americans have a responsibility to live healthier. But, do they have the willpower?

The U.S. spends more on health care (18% of GDP) than Western European nations (about 10%) but has a higher infant-mortality rate and a slightly shorter life expectancy than most other developed nations.

Kaplan says America’s soaring spending is the product of a sicker population, a higher intensity of care and the over-medicalization of care at the end of life.

Americans need to change their behavior. In 2014, 35 percent of Americans were deemed obese; the average is 17 percent among other nations that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Obesity contributes to a greater prevalence of the most expensive medical problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and strokes. People can’t say no to bad eating habits and are doomed to a future of medical problems which they hope will be fixed by doctors and pharmaceutical companies ... at a very high cost.

The notion of eating healthy and the reality of people’s everyday food choices are often at odds. Since 80 percent of cardiovascular disease is preventable, why aren’t we making simple changes to our diets to be healthier?

There are social determinants of health. Like behaviors associated with poverty such as problems as chronic disease, poor diet, substance abuse, lack of access to care and exposure to environmental hazards.

Kaplan says throw in quality of life. Bodies that have been abused for 20, 30 and 40 years by bad diet choices cannot be fixed solely by costly medicines and surgeries. They may extend life expectancy by a few years but the quality of those years may be debatable.

Are you living and eating like a person that wants to live into your 80s and 90s without serious medical issues? If not, you better have good health insurance and a plan for assisted living care.

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His fans say he’s a great guy and maybe the best baseball player, ever. Or, the professional sports world is just crazy.

About a month ago, Mike Trout, 27, a seven-time All-Star for the Los Angeles Angels, signed a 12-year, $426.5 million deal that includes a no-trade clause and no-opt-outs. If he plays 162 games a year, that comes to about $225,000 per game.

Because he has two years left on his current contract, the new deal is for an additional 10 years at $360 million. Is that crazy money? Well, baseball observers say Trout is worth the money as a player, person and teammate.

About two months ago, the Philadelphia Phillies rewarded outfielder Bryce Harper with $330 million for 13 years and the San Diego Padres gave Manny Machado $300 million for 10 years. When will we know these contracts are just too much?

For the 2019 season, Trout will take home $36 million. Arizona pitcher Zack Greinke will make $34.4 million for working every fifth day. At least six other major leaguers will be paid $30 million, or more. They also collect a per diem and have trainers and medical people to care for them.

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The Census Bureau says by 2050, the U.S. will have a majority-minority population. Currently, more than half of the country’s population is white. By 2044 minorities will make up the majority and by 2060 minorities will be 56 percent of the population.

These predictions are the result of a new Pew Research Center survey and analysis by the Census Bureau. Pew reports that 25 percent of white Americans say having a majority-minority country would be a good thing, as do more than half of blacks and Hispanics (53% and 55%, respectively).

Almost half of white Americans (46%) say the U.S. becoming a majority nonwhite nation would weaken American customs and values. Pew says 25 percent of Hispanics and 18 percent of blacks agree with these concerns while 40 percent of blacks and 46 percent of Hispanics believe the shift would strengthen those customs and values.

Pew did not define “American customs and values” or “American culture” for the survey.

Roughly 40 percent of Americans say the shift to a majority nonwhite country wouldn’t be good or bad, and more than one-third say it would be good. The survey found that more than half of Americans believe a majority nonwhite population would lead to more racial and ethnic conflict.