IN THEIR ARTICLE in this issue of the Archives, Gans and colleagues1 again focus our attention, as did the April 1995 issue, on the topic of prevention. Through their careful estimation of the annual treatment costs of selected adolescent morbidities (a staggering $33.5 billion), the authors underscore the enormous potential for savings of successful efforts targeted toward the prevention or modification of the onset of risky adolescent behaviors. Since many causes of adult morbidity and mortality are also attributable to lifestyles adopted or rejected during adolescence, savings from such successes would likely continue to accrue far beyond the teenage years. Imagine the savings from the treatment of adult heart disease, hypertension, and lung cancer if we could convince teenagers to eat a low-fat diet, exercise regularly, maintain an appropriate weight, and refrain from smoking cigarettes throughout their lives.
The cost analysis of Gans and colleagues suggests that preventive efforts,