If you want to make a big impact on the health of your children, yourself, and your parents, 3-4-50 are the numbers for you. If you think it would be great if your neighbors were in good health, remember 3-4-50. And if you wish that the Iowa legislature could figure out a way to keep down the cost of maintaining everyone’s health, 3-4-50 is your solution.

First the three: To change our community’s overall health, we could focus on three simple things—healthy eating, exercising and smoking—because they have such a huge impact on overall health. The good news is that what you eat, how much you move, and whether you smoke are also within your control, and these behaviors can be changed at any time during your lifetime to improve your health.

Next the 4: Your diet, activity level and tobacco use are strongly tied to the likelihood that you will suffer from four chronic diseases: cancer, heart disease/stroke, diabetes, and respiratory disease. You undoubtedly know someone who has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, so you may be aware of the toll it takes on a person (and their family) to live with any of these long-term conditions. Finally the 50: The four categories of chronic disease mentioned above are the cause of 50 percent of all untimely and painful deaths. From a quality of life standpoint, the majority of chronic disease cases causing so much debility are truly preventable. From an economic standpoint, poor eating, exercise and smoking behaviors contribute to billions of dollars’ worth of direct medical expenditures in Central Iowa.

So the bottom line is that three behaviors lead to four chronic diseases, accounting for 50 percent of deaths. Think about it. Better yet, do something about it.