On October 1, 2019 Health IQ hopes to celebrate National Health Literacy Day – a day of learning and celebration of healthy lifestyle choices – with the mission of making the country healthier. U.S. Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA) and Greg Gianforte (R-CA) today introduced a resolution that would create this day. We applaud their leadership and urge Congress to pass this measure.

Increasing personal health literacy – how knowledgeable an individual is about topics such as exercise, nutrition and lifestyle choices that impact health – is a 21st century opportunity that has the potential to redefine national public health challenges in ways similar to how reading literacy transformed the 19th and 20th centuries. Science, data and technology are creating ways to help people live longer, healthier lives while saving overburdened health care systems billions of dollars. 

While millions of people across the country are waking up to the fact that the daily choices they make have real, long term health impacts there is still work to be done, and kitschy pop-culture days are NOT helping. 

National Doughnut Day, started in 1938 by the Chicago Salvation Army, is now nothing more than a sugary, consumer-driven pop culture day for likes and selfies. Sorry not sorry Krispy Kreme & Dunkin’. 

Others include:

  • National Junk Food Day
  • Smores Day
  • Nachos Day
  • Chocolate Chip / Lollipop / Jelly Bean / Nutty Fudge 

No, we’re not coming for your donuts and cookies and cake and candy and Netflix-on-the-couching. We’re simply saying it’s time to take ourselves more seriously and get honest about our health. 

Daysoftheyear.com claims over 20 distinct ‘Chocolate Day’ celebrations ranging from ‘World Chocolate Day’ and ‘International Chocolate Day’ to “plain old ‘Chocolate Day’”. With over 3000 listings, less than ¼ are devoted to healthy food or healthy lifestyle choices.

In 1977, at the peak of US tobacco consumption and as lung cancer death rates began increasing dramatically, San Francisco held the first Great American Smokeout, a tradition that later became Don’t Smoke Day and World No Tobacco Day despite initial smoking / cancer associations reported as early as the 1920s.

National days are a way to bring awareness around issues that impact consumer health. America, enough is enough. We’re calling on you to join the Health Literacy movement. 

Call out the processed food and sugar lobby. 

Be Lazy Day should not be every day.

Raise your activism and shout out a public health or healthy lifestyle change you wish to see across the country. 

Use #HEALTHLITERACY to raise awareness and start dialogue to help others find their way to healthier life choices!

With enough participation we can truly change the health of the world.

Earlier this year, published in the National Health Literacy Report, we found that having a high health literacy score was associated with lower rates of diabetes. States with the highest rates of diabetes – MS, AL, LA, WV, SC – are also the states with the lowest Health IQ. We found similar results when we looked at obesity and high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. We also found a strong correlation between health literacy and prescription drug costs, a major factor in skyrocketing Medicare costs. Our report shows states with low health literacy spend up to $1,300 more on drug costs per senior than states with high health literacy.

Improving health literacy and wellness later in life can create significant savings for consumers. Studies show that the average retiree will need $280,000 just to pay for medical expenses. However, those who are healthier will need less. Seniors with high health literacy have up to 20 percent fewer hospital visits than those with lower health literacy.  

We applaud lawmakers for taking up this cause. Health literacy is not a liberal or conservative idea. It is a shift in consumer mindsets to empower people to use data and science-backed approaches to improve the quality of their lives while strengthening our health safety net. Medicare spending, for instance, is expected to double over the next decade and the program will become insolvent in 2026, just seven years from now. Policymakers will need every tool at their disposal to confront rising health costs. Few will be more effective than health literacy.

If this cause resonates with you, join us online & give a #HEALTHLITERACY shout out to tell us how increasing your awareness has impacted your life for the better