The foods and beverages you consume have a significant impact on your health. Diet-related chronic diseases—such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer—are prevalent among Americans and pose a major public health problem. In fact, 60% of adults have one or more diet-related chronic diseases.
Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture publish nutrition advice. The newest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) offers science-based nutrition advice to develop healthy eating habits and reduce chronic disease risk. For the first time, this edition provides recommendations by life stage, from birth through older adulthood.
2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines
The latest guidance provides four overarching guidelines that encourage healthy eating patterns while recognizing that individuals will need to make shifts in their food and beverage choices to achieve a healthy pattern.
Make every bite count and consider the following four overarching guidelines:
1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage. Dietary needs and recommendations vary based on your age, sex and stage of life. Review the guidelines to ensure that you and your loved ones—whether they’re infants, teens, adults or older adults—are following a healthy diet.
2. Customize your foods and beverages to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions and budgets. A healthy dietary pattern can benefit all people regardless of age, race, ethnicity or current health status.
3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages while staying within calorie limits. Keep in mind that 85% of your daily calories should meet food group recommendations for vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein. Nutrient-dense foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, without too much-added sugars, saturated fats and sodium.
4. Limit foods and beverages high in added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. Be mindful of the nutritional facts of the foods and beverages you consume—including alcohol. For example, men should limit alcohol to two drinks a day and women should consume no more than one drink per day.
Everyone can benefit from a healthy eating pattern, so start simple with modest changes each day.
For healthy recipes or to learn more about the current guidelines, visit MyPlate.gov.
Understanding Prescription Drug Pricing Trends
In 2019, the United States spent nearly $370 billion on prescription drugs, keeping trend with significant increases year over year. Although prescription drug spending has historically been a small proportion of national health care costs compared to hospital and physician services, it has grown rapidly in recent years—comprising about 10% of national health care spending. Below are the two major factors contributing to the rise of prescription drug costs:
- Influx of specialty drugs—Specialty medications account for a smaller portion of U.S. prescriptions than non-specialty drugs, yet they command nearly half of the pharmaceutical market. In 2021, experts predict an 11.5% increase in specialty drug prices, compared to a 2.8% rise in non-specialty drug prices. These manufacturer price increases are often cited by insurers as reasons for rising insurance premiums.
- Price inflation—According to a Segal report, 40% of new products recently launched by drug manufacturers were specialty medications. These drugs are now being pushed at a higher rate than non-specialty drugs, contributing to price inflation. Specialty drug utilization increased by nearly 6% in 2020, whereas non-specialty drug usage remained relatively the same. And there is little recourse for anyone seeking an alternative to these specialty drugs.
Yet, despite these trends, there are cost-cutting strategies available to employers. These include managing drug usage, utilizing rebates, and educating employees. Reach out to learn more about these and other budgetary tactics.
3 Voluntary Benefits Trends to Watch in 2021
Voluntary benefits have always been great tools for rounding off employee benefits offerings. And that value isn’t lost on employers—at least 50% offer some sort of voluntary benefits, according to an Alera Group report. Employers can expect to see voluntary benefits grow in these three key areas in 2021:
- Expanded offerings such as eldercare and critical illness insurance
- A focus on financial wellness, including budget counseling and financial planning
- Greater customization, allowing employees to pick and choose what’s best for them
Voluntary benefits include dental, vision, critical illness, pet insurance, and similar offerings that are paid for partially by employees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, having additional benefits options like these could be exactly what employees need. Specifically, these trends indicate employees want more control over the benefits that are important to them.
Reach out to learn how to help employees maximize their voluntary benefits.