The Silent Epidemic

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Infectious Disease | Public Health | Virus Diseases


The COVID-19 virus has rightly taken center stage for our entire nation. Despite the devastating consequences of COVID-19 I believe there may be a silver lining for the medical community. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to stop and consider how precious life is and what we are called upon to do as physicians. With this in mind, I believe that this may be a propitious time to examine what I refer to as “America's Silent Epidemic.” For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 650,000 individuals in the United States will die of heart disease this year. The National Institutes of Health estimates that obesity each year causes over 300,000 fatalities. Diabetes is listed as the cause of death for over 270,000 individuals each year. Over 480,000 people in the United States die each year from cigarette smoking or passive exposure to cigarette smoke. When you add up these largely preventable diseases, this silent epidemic takes over 4 times as many American lives each year as COVID-19.


COVID-19, lifestyle medicine, lifestyle-related diseases

DOI of Published Version



Rippe JM. The Silent Epidemic. Am J Med. 2021 Feb;134(2):164-165. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2020.09.028. Epub 2020 Oct 25. PMID: 33228951; PMCID: PMC7585628. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The American journal of medicine

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID