Last year, I listened to a podcast interview with Eric Adams, who has now become New York City’s mayor.

As has been the case across the U.S. during the pandemic, crime in New York City has gone up. Adams is focusing on that issue. He explained in the interview his approach is not just to focus on crises, but also on prevention in the first place. Intervention and prevention, he said.

He referred to his governing style as an “upstream” approach, which he has used to make changes in his own personal development.

“We spend a lifetime pulling people out of the river,” he explained, “Instead of going upstream and preventing them from falling in in the first place.”

Instead of teaching healthy eating, we treat poor health outcomes. Instead of early intervention to help children avoid criminality, we focus on punitive measures.

Adams had a major health scare. He was diagnosed with diabetes and was told he was going to have to be on medicine the rest of his life. The medicine would be used to try to slow down the diabetes, but the prognosis he was given was grim.

The U.S. (and much of the rest of the world), has been in the midst of a long-building a diabetes epidemic. According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.):

  • The number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
  • Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation.
  • A healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight, and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
  • Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication, and regular screening and treatment for complications.

Adams didn’t want to accept the extreme effects of diabetes as inevitable. He researched “reversing diabetes” and was able to turn things around for his health. It took extreme measures, for example, he became a vegan. And, while he likes to talk about that, his more universal message is about avoiding having to go to extremes in the first place.

How? By treating the underlying causes, not the symptoms – by going upstream and focusing on the habits which determine one’s healthspan, such as exercise and healthy eating.

Genetics is the factor we can’t control. But, everything else we can impact is worth working on and I hope you will focus on prevention to avoid having to focus on treatment.

Be well,