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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How responsible is government for our personal health decisions?

Here's a link to a New York Times article by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar in which he discusses the idea that people with good health habits should pay less for health insurance than those with poor habits.

The idea is one of personal responsibility, and the government's responsibility to "pick up the pieces" when individuals don't comply with medical advice. It turns out that it's just not that simple, of course. As Dr. Jauhar says, "When people advocate the need for personal accountability, they presuppose more control over health and sickness than really exists."

We like to think that if we each just worked harder at "good" health habits, all of our chronic health problems would be eliminated. If people just ate "better", exercised, didn't smoke, and had less stress, we would have less obesity and overweight, less heart disease and less diabetes, and therefore lower health care costs. It turns out that's not really true. Changing one's diet and exercise doesn't necessarily result in weight loss. The system is much more complex than that, and much messier! Americans want THE ANSWER to complex problems, tied up in a neat bow. The problem of personal responsibility when it comes to health habits is much more complicated than that.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/health/30risk.html?ref=health

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Submit Your Comments
to the
First Lady's
Childhood Obesity Task Force

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, has established a task force as part of her childhood obesity initiative and is seeking recommendations on the following goals:

(a) ensuring access to healthy, affordable food;
(b) increasing physical activity in schools and communities;
(c) providing healthier food in schools; and
(d) empowering parents with information and tools to make good choices for themselves and their families

To submit your comments to the task force, and for more information about the obestiy initiative, please visit http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480abe53d

What do you think about these ideas? They are great, but....let's be careful we don't stigmatize "overweight" kids. Let's remember that all shapes and sizes of bodies are OK, and can easily be healthy with good food and exercise. Where your body "lands" is where it's supposed to be. We need to help kids ACCEPT others' differences in shape and size. Stigmatizing and making fun of larger people is just rude, mean and makes things much worse for them.
How would you like it if people made fun of something about you that is "different"?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fascinating article in NY Times re: Prejudice against fat people

Paul Campos and Marilyn Wann wrote a terrific oped piece on fat prejudice last week. Here's a link:
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/0308 2010-03-08_fatties_its_time_to_fight_back.html

This is not a new idea, but one that's gaining traction in the "real" world. How is it that hating fat people is still OK? It's assumed that if they "just" ate better and exercised more they wouldn't be fat. It also assumes that fat people are by definition unhealthy. Nothing could be further from the truth!

It is quite possible to be fat and healthy. Surprised? Friends and family members of mine have believed that fat=unhealthy. These are otherwise very intelligent and educated people. I want to dispell these ideas!

BTW, it is NOT true that fat people all eat badly and don't exercise. That's certainly true for some, but for many it's just the way their bodies work. Would you hate people with blue eyes? Or all white (black, latino, Asian) people? I sure hope not!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Best way to lose weight?

There's been a lot in the media lately about making small changes in what you eat and how you exercise to maintain your weight and/or to lose weight. Michelle Obama has been talking about this in terms of children and overweight and obesity. Is it true that small changes can stimulate weight loss? Perhaps not. Here's an iteresting article in the NY Times.
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/in-obesity-epidemic-whats-one-cookie/?emc=eta1