Overprescribed and Undernourished

We are a nation of pill takers. A study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that nearly 60% of the adults in the United States take prescription medications. In those 65 years and older, that number jumps to 90%.

Regardless of age, we are seeing marked increases in medication use.

And it’s not only the use of prescription medications that has gone up. So has polypharmacy, the use of more than one medication by an individual on a regular basis. What’s especially alarming is that polypharmacy is increasing most in the youngest adults. Although polypharmacy rates doubled compared to the year 2000, today’s 20 to 39 year olds were found to be nearly 5 TIMES more likely to be taking multiple prescription medications.

Over the past 10 years, use of nearly every class of drugs increased, while drugs targeting diabetes, depression and acid reflux essentially doubled. Apparently we not only getting sicker – we also feel lousy.

The most commonly used individual drug in 2011-2012 was simvastatin, with nearly 8% of adults using this drug, a significant increase from 2% in 1999-2000. Simvastatin is a medication used to treat high cholesterol.

The top 10 list rounded out with: 

  • 4 drugs for high blood pressure
  • 1 drug for underactive thyroid
  • a diabetes medication
  • a pill for acid reflux
  • another drug for high cholesterol
  • an asthma treatment 

Did you catch the theme? The vast majority of these medications were for treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. These are conditions that are driven by food. And yet we treat them with … medications.

Is it just me or is this completely insane? 

Step One Foods exists to help people get off of this merry-go-round, to fix the real problem that’s driving their health issues. And to lower reliance on prescription medications because if food is a major part of the problem, food has to be a major part of the solution.


Reference: Kantor ED, et al. Trends in Prescription Drug Use Among Adults in the United States From 1999-2012. JAMA. 2015;314(17):1818-1830.

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