Disease Prevention

“Health is not simply the absence of sickness.”

Disease prevention aims to reduce the occurrence of illness. It is the most effective, affordable way to reduce risk for and severity of chronic disease. Just like the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, the LiveHealthy OC Initiative’s work is driven by the four pillars of prevention: building healthy and safe communities; expanding quality preventive services in both clinical and community settings; empowering people to make healthy choices; and eliminating health disparities.

Through our work, the LiveHealthy OC Initiative aims to focus on the health and well-being of all people in our community, as prevention is the first line of defense against the risk or threat of disease.


What is Chronic Disease?

Chronic disease is a disease that persists for a long time. By definition, a chronic disease usually lasts three months or more, and often caused by combination of genetics and influence of lifestyle/environment factors. Chronic diseases generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication or surgery, or it just disappears. Chronic diseases include:

Heart disease – Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, stroke, and congenital heart disease.

Obesity – Having excess body fat. For adults 35 and older, having a BMI greater than 30 is considered obese. It is a chronic medical disease that can lead to diabeteshigh blood pressureheart diseasegallstones, and other chronic illnesses.

Diabetes – A chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin produced by the pancreas lowers blood glucose. Absence or insufficient production of insulin, or an inability of the body to properly use insulin causes diabetes.

Cancer – Results from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in the body (blood, brain, bone, or any organ) and many of these abnormal cells are capable of invading other tissues.

Arthritis – a joint disorder featuring inflammation. A joint is an area of the body where two different bones meet. A joint functions to move the body parts connected by its bones. Arthritis literally means inflammation of one or more joints.

Oral Conditions – Mouth and throat diseases such as tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, and oral cancers.

What Are The Causes of Chronic Disease?

The causes of chronic diseases are most often related to unhealthy behaviors that you can change. These behaviors include lack of exercise or physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and drinking too much alcohol. These poor lifestyle choices, along with insufficient sleep and chronic stress, are key contributors in raised blood pressure, raised glucose levels, abnormal blood lipids, overweight and obesity. Other causes that are beyond our control include age and genetics.

What Can You Do To Minimize Your Risk of Disease?

Taking charge of your health and wellness is the first step. In addition, knowing your family history of chronic diseases and your risk factors, talking with your doctor about how to manage your health and stay your health, and knowing what health behaviors you should have as part of your everyday life is important.

Here’s what you can do to on your own as your first line of defense against the risk or threat of disease:

Physical activity
Engage in regular physical activity. It is one of the most important things a person can do to stay healthy. Not only will physical activity increase one’s chances of living longer—it can also help control weight; reduce risks for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers; strengthen bones and muscles; improve mental health and mood; and improve ability to do daily activities and prevent falls among older adults.

Practice good nutrition. It can help lower risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Increased consumption of whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk for heart disease and certain cancers as well. Managing weight is all about balance—balancing the number of calories consumed with the number of calories the body uses or “burns off.”

Tobacco Use
Stopping smoking. Quitting smoking is associated with the following health benefits such as lowered risk for lung cancer and many other types of cancer; reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of the blood vessels outside your heart); and reduced heart disease risk within 1 to 2 years of quitting.

Alcohol consumption
Limit your alcohol consumption. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people who choose to drink alcoholic beverages do so sensibly and in moderation, defined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. These guidelines also specify that some people should not drink alcoholic beverages at all, including underage youth.

Orange County Resources for Disease Prevention

Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention (CDIP)

Physical Activity Resources – for physical activity classes, programs and parks with swimming pools, ball fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, and much more in Orange County.


Tools for Engaging in Disease Prevention

Tools for Increasing Physical Activity 

EveryBody Walk – Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, provides online resources including smart phones apps, blogs, and videos to promote walking 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week in order to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.

Walking Techniques to Keep Up the Pace – By AARP, an overview of the best techniques to maximize and maintain the healthiest physical activity results.

Home Workouts – By AARP, also available in Spanish, provides an at-home and little-to-no-equipment exercise regimen composed of aerobic exercise, strength training, and endurance that a person of any age can accomplish.

Frugal Fitness: Stay Fit by Spending Less – From gardening to running, AARP provides a list of daily tasks that can also serve as fitness activities. The list provides the amount of money saved, the number of calories burned, and the muscles used for each exercise.

Ideas for Exercising – From the American Diabetes Association, has information on finding the right exercise program, stretching and the importance of intensity.

Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight – From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides a table that lists the amount of calories burned in common physical activities at both the moderate and vigorous levels.

Walkability Workbook – Sponsored by the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, the Walkability Workbook is a free guidance document that helps communities understand the tools of walkability and gives community members the resources needed to deliver walkability workshops and conduct walking audits on their own.


Tools for Improving Nutrition

Life’s Sweeter with Fewer Sugary Drinks Campaign – A campaign that promotes the consumption of fewer sugary drinks in hopes of preventing diabetes and obesity.  The website is available in English and Spanish.  Anyone can join the campaign to reduce sugary drinks in the home, workplace, and community.

Rethink Your Drink – An 8-page brochure by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with calorie counts and alternatives to common sweetened beverages. Also provides tips on reading nutrition facts labels.

School Nutritionist Weighs Juices, Sodas – From National Public Radio, a question and answer conversation (podcast and transcript) with Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom regarding sports drinks, juice drinks, and diet sodas that are found in schools and alternatives for choosing an appropriate beverage.

Managing Diabetes Through Good NutritionEngage, has information on making smart food choices for a healthy diet. Lot of other resources on meal planning, healthy eating and eating out.

Diabetes Diet and Food Tips: Eating to Prevent, Control, and Reverse Diabetes – By HelpGuide.org, reviews myths and facts about healthy eating and diabetes and offers tips on choosing higher fiber carbs, being smart about sweets and choosing fats wisely.

Eat Healthy on a Budget compiled by the Today Show’s diet and nutrition editor, provides money saving tips for grocery shopping and eating out.

Healthy Cooking Recipes – By allrecipes.com, lets you search for healthy recipes, including low fat and family friendly. Also provides helpful how-to videos.

Choose MyPlate Campaign – Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture, provides links to dietary guidelines, healthy eating on a budget, and sample menus and recipes. It also provides a SuperTracker link that helps you plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity.

Eat a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables EveryDay – By the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides links to various recipes, daily budget tips, and more about fruits and vegetables. Also provides a link that allows the consumer to determine his or her own daily requirement of fruits and vegetables.

Why Fruits and Vegetables? – From the Tennessee Department of Health, provides a chart of nutrients and their benefits, and fruit and vegetable sources for each. A 9-page color handout is also free to download.

HealthyDining Finder – By the CDC, National Restaurant Association and other partners, offers a restaurant search features that lets you search for dietician-approved menu items, emphasizing lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats and meet calorie, fat and saturated fat criteria.


Tools to Help You Quit Smoking

Quit.com – Sign Up for Tips & Advice to Help You Stay on Your Quit Journey.

Smokefree.gov – Tips on how to handle the temporary feelings of withdrawal and cravings. Learn about different quitting tools and how to use them.

Freedom From Smoking – Quit smoking with the click of a button through the new Freedom From Smoking Plus, a user-friendly interface that allows you to create a personal quit smoking plan on your desktop, tablet or smartphone.