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Provocative holiday conversation

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By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

This Thanksgiving, my husband and I visited his parents. We enjoyed dinner and conversation with them and a few of their friends. After getting to know each other a bit better, I asked this group of thoughtful and socially engaged baby boomers a question: “What would it take for the U.S. to become the No. 1 healthiest country in the world by 2040?”

Everyone eagerly, and at times passionately, shared his or her opinions.

Suggestions ranged from radically changing the U.S. food supply chain, to increased prevention education. Each suggestion sparked tangent conversations and further solutions were generated.

Jim Loehr, a world renowned performance psychologist and author of 16 books—including his most recent, “The Only Way to Win”—teaches that our story is our destiny, whether it leads to victory of self defeat.  

What if we Americans changed our story and got on board in co-creating the healthiest country in the world by 2040? While we wouldn’t all be in agreement on how to get there, we would be in alignment. This collaborative momentum could be exactly what we need to turn this ship around.

If trying to answer the question, “What would it take to be the No. 1 healthiest country in the world by 2040?” (WIT 2040 for short) conjures up serious doubt or overwhelming feelings, let’s consider recent and radical culture shifts that we’ve created in our country.  

While we now automatically buckle-up when we get into cars, in the 1980s virtually no one used seat belts. And consider cigarette smoking: It was only 20 years ago when bartenders (myself included) smoked behind the bar in certain Big Sky restaurants—today, that’s inconceivable.

There are several organizations that study the health of nations and each has it’s own complex measuring system.
Bill and Melinda Gates funded a 2015 study produced by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals division. The Global Burden of Disease study analyzed data from public surveys, pharmaceutical manufacturer reports and medical records. Iceland and Sweden came out on top, while the U.S. came in 28th out of 188 total nations.

According to the Harvard Health Blog, the National Academy of Medicine proposes using 15 “vital signs” to track the health of Americans: life expectancy, well-being, overweight and obesity, addictive behavior, unintended pregnancy, healthy communities, preventive services, access to care, patient safety, evidence-based care, care that matches patient goals, personal spending burden, population spending burden, individual engagement, and community engagement.

So what do you, your friends and family think it would take to become the No. 1 healthiest country in the world by 2040? Strike up the conversation this holiday season and share your ideas at WIT2040 on Instagram and Facebook followed by #wit2040. Let’s rewrite our story of declining health to one of strength, vitality and incredible comeback. We can do it.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach and Consultant, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at

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