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Pareto’s Principle & Health: Part 1



Pareto’s Principle Applied to Health

Pareto’s principle (also known as the 80–20 rule or  law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.  This principle has been proven in biology as well as business.  

You want to improve your own health, your families health, or solve our national health care crisis?

Follow this important series of articles which break down the most important aspects of health, focusing on the 20% of efforts that create 80% of the results.  

My patients are bombarded with health information from various media.   We receive conflicting information constantly.  Fats good, fats bad.  Eggs good, eggs bad. Low Carb, Low Fat.

Additionally, everyone has an angle.  Drug companies spend billions marketing medications, drumming up research, and convincing us through dubious statistics about the hazards of NOT taking their medication.

My years of medical practice have led me to the conclusion that rarely, and only in the most focused circumstances, do the medications I write contribute to overall longevity or improved quality of living.  Instead, I have found that focusing on the patient’s individual lifestyle habits makes the biggest difference.

This got me thinking about Pareto’s Principle.

Pareto’s Principle: Cholesterol Example

A common example of Pareto’s Principle stems from my experience treating patients with high cholesterol or triglycerides. The easy answer = start a medication.  I once treated a man with 3 medications to lower his cholesterol from 400 to 295.  Simultaneously his triglycerides on 3 medications dropped from 2500 to 1900.

Let’s review 3 medications, $300 dollars monthly expense, side effects of muscle aches and slightly abnormal liver function tests with a result of persistent astronomically HIGH lipid panels.

I ultimately had a heart to heart with the patient.  I stopped focusing my energy less on what new combination of medication I could prescribe or harassing him about non-compliance.  Instead I did a simple thing.  I asked him about his diet and lifestyle habits.

Turns out the patient drank nearly a 12 pack of beer weekly and sometimes 2 liters of Dr. Pepper daily.  In this extreme example the patient “reluctantly” acknowledged that his habits “might” contribute to his cholesterol situation.

I offered him a trial of 6 weeks.  He “mostly” eliminated beer and stopped drinking Dr. Pepper for the entire trial.  His Cholesterol dropped under 250.  His triglycerides dropped to 295 (still high but massively lower).

Here’s the kicker…I stopped all three “Cholesterol” & “Triglyceride” medications during the trial.

He’s not “fixed” but the advice to stop alcohol / Beer / Soda cured 80% of his problem WITHOUT medication.

Pareto’s Principle Applied to Health

The following tips probably account for the greatest benefit with the minimum input (80/20) with regards to GENERAL HEALTH

  1. Stop drinking soda
  2. Limit Alcohol to 1-2 drinks per setting, eliminate if you have diabetes, high cholesterol, excess body fat, or fatigue
  3. Make a habit of routine physical activity (Minimum 3 days weekly–DOING SOMETHING–ANYTHING–gets nearly 80% of benefit!!)
  4. Address Stress: Clinical Fact=I treat more stress related disease/dysfunction than all other issues combined. (Treating stress)
  5. Understanding your medical problems are 80-90% HOW YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE and 10-20% genetic.  This is a FACT in my clinical experience
  6. Exterminating the attitude that people can’t be their own health expert.  Feel bad when you drink milk?  Stop. Feel better? Good.  You don’t need a $500 dollar test and a doctor to explain the intricacies of food sensitivity versus food allergy versus lactose intolerance.   Listen to your body.
  7. Understanding you are what you eat–literally.  Foggy brain, poor mental focus, low energy, low libido, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension…dare I say CANCER…all have significant origins in what you consume. (Proper Nutrition)


Hope this was helpful.  I plan on adding more topics illustrating how Pareto’s Principles applies to specific health problems.  Readers and patients will begin to implement at least the basic concepts that should yield the most benefit.  Feel free to comment or request topics for the future.

I also encourage you to share this post with friends, family, and co-workers.  Widespread application of Pareto’s Principle to Health could save our country from financial ruin.


Photo credit: i-assist.com.au


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