Problems with Lifestyle Habits and its Long-Term Effects

According to the demographics of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2017, the top killer of the Japanese population is cancer, followed by heart disease, brain vascular disease, old age and pneumonia so what do these diseases have in common? Like most diseases, it all comes down to personal lifestyle habits. There may be arguments that genetics is also an important factor that may increase the risk of disease but excluding genetics, lifestyle plays quite a big role in the quality of life.

Figure 1: Causes of Death Among the Japanese Population

  1. 1. Lifestyle Habits that Lead to Diseases
  2. 2. Issue Regarding the Lifestyle-Related Diseases Market
  3. 3. DTC (Direct to Consumer) Marketing
  4. 4. Contact us

Lifestyle Habits that Lead to Diseases

When a healthy person acquires irregular lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise, inappropriate eating (calories, salt, excess fat intake), stress, drinking and smoking, it may accumulate to increase the risk of acquiring lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and lipidemia. During this period, if measures are taken and the person follows specific health instructions daily, there is still a high probability for prevention of disease. However, without proper steps taken, the disease will aggravate and progress further to become visceral fat syndrome and hypertension. During this stage, drug treatments are already needed in addition to lifestyle changes to prevent further aggravation but not all patients will have the will to follow these instructions. If diseases persist, they may progress to severe complications such as ischemic heart disease (myocardial infection, angina pectoris), stroke (brain haemorrhage, cerebral infarction) and diabetes complication. This is where care is needed to aid the person in performing life functions since they may be half body paralysed and having conditions that interfere with daily life like dementia. From these, we can clearly see how small lifestyle changes can lead to major impacts not only towards a person’s health but also the country’s economic particularly the medical cost.

Figure 2: Lifestyle Habits that can Lead to Disease Progression and Measures taken by the Healthcare Industry to overcome this.

Steps Taken by the Healthcare Industry to Overcome this Problem
To overcome this predicament, the healthcare industry has put in a lot of effort into promoting the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. By providing health management support such as dietary instructions, exercise therapy and manufacturing of health foods etc., they help people manage their daily lifestyle and avoid acquiring an irregular lifestyle. People are also encouraged to perform medical check-ups annually and prevent from smoking and drinking.

Issue Regarding the Lifestyle-Related Diseases Market

A major issue for lifestyle-related diseases market is the low visit rate during mild disease periods. This may be due to people taking conditions lightly since medical costs are high or ignorance. Good examples are dyslipidemia and high blood pressure where 97% and 70% of the patients are untreated respectively.

Figure 3: The Percentage of Treated (Blue) VS Untreated (Orange) Patients of Various Diseases including Diabetes, High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) and Dyslipidemia (From left to right)

Pathways Patients Take after Disease Onset
When a healthy person is contracted with a disease or illness, there are several pathways that the person will take. If the patient is knowledgeable, he/she will first collect information on the disease and look up medical institutions available that can treat the disease. From there, he/she will either visit a specialist who will give a proper diagnosis of the disease and provide proper treatment or just a general hospital or clinic where they will be advised. However, as stated above, there is usually a low visit rate if the disease is mild or only during the early stages. For these people who are not admitted into hospitals, they will either just get over-the-counter (OTC) drugs (medicines sold directly to a consumer without a prescription from a healthcare professional) or not get treated which is not advisable.

Figure 4: Possible Pathways taken by Patients after onset of Diseases.

DTC (Direct to Consumer) Marketing

Therefore, to increase public awareness of diseases and the new drugs that are arriving in the market, pharmaceutical companies are currently using the DTC (Direct to Consumer) Marketing. Public awareness of the disease will first be raised by dissemination of information to media and medical consumers via publicity, web sites, advertisements, civil open lectures as well as health events etc. Market researchers will then contact physicians to further their knowledge on the disease as well as introduce them to the new drug. This will allow physicians to have better understanding of the drug so that they can prescribe the drugs better to future patients, promoting patient consultations. This will not only provide the patients with the most updated information of new drugs that may aid treating their disease but also secure a stable market for pharmaceutical companies so further research can be done to improve current treatments.

Contact us

Please feel free to inquire using the form below. We will respond as soon as possible between 9:30 and 18:30 (Monday – Friday Japan Tokyo time).

Figure 1: Demographic statistics of Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare 2017
Figure 3: Tokyo Comprehensive Health Insurance Association Council (Toshokyo), available online at:
Figure 4: DTC Marketing / Furukawa Takashi Quote from Kirishima Pass

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