Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yes, Vegetables

Click Here to Read a NY Times article on Epidemiology

An interesting article by Gary Taubes, where he asks, "Do we really know what makes us healthy?

The answer is YES: vegetables. Taubes and I agree on that, and that is what public health should focus on.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Forget Childhood Obesity

I just finished watching the movie Blood Diamond. I spend my time worrying about our children in this country who are becoming obese. They are positioned to live horrible lives of disease.

But, what about the children of Africa and other parts of the world? The movie shows how our want of resources from Africa, in this case, diamonds, causes civil war. The civil wars cause villages to be shot to death, women to be raped, and children to be drafted into armies to learn to kill.

I also just read What is the What by Dave Eggers. It tells the story of a boy running for his life through Sudan in the previous civil war. The stories are of young children who are refugees for their entire life. Others get drafted and trained into killing machines. Children are becoming killing machines! By the time they are 12 they have seen more murderers and rapes than any of us ever will.

I try to think everyday about what I do and how it affects others. Why can't we all just think about what our actions have? It's called mindfulness. Whether it be diamonds, ivory, or oil. Our habits are helping to cause a lot of this. Why can't we help others? Why can't we stop worrying about ourselves and start caring about others? There is so much going on in the world and if we just think about it all the time, and just started caring, maybe we could save some lives. But instead we just watch our celebrity shows, Fox News, and get drunk.

I have to start asking myself: Is childhood obesity that bad? At least our children aren't becoming murders after watching their fathers get shot and their mothers raped.
The child is the jewel.
I cry.

Oxfam America: Conflict in Darfur

Burger Companies Giving Money to Politicians

Get Active on the Farm Bill.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hillary's Health Plan - American's Health Choices Plan

I am not a huge fan of Hillary, but I think she may have a good idea here. The plan basically allows anyone to keep their own health insurance or buy into another. This is a major point for many who have insurance and are scared of a change.

The best part is that it allows you to buy into a government-run plan with no private insurer. This is what those at the Rockridge Institute call a strategic initiative. It allows more and more people to get on a government-run plan (like Medicare). Then we can prove to people that a Medicare-like plan is better than their private plan. Hopefully, this will switch more and more people over to a Medicare-like plan, bringing us on to a path of Medicare for All (single payer).

The plan has parts that I disagree with, such as the funding (tax credits), but I think the general idea is in the right direction.

We have the responsibility as a country to provide all with access to comprehensive medical care.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Security and Health for the New Year

Yesterday I was in Penn Station, New York, waiting for a train back to Boston. As I walked into the Amtrak waiting area there was a man laying on the ground in the middle of the station. People looked at him and stood around. He was breathing and most people assumed he was drunk or faking it. But in the post 9/11 world in NYC, one obviously thinks about whether a suspicious man in Penn station is a terrorist threat. After about 5 minutes, an Amtrak official saw the guy and tried to get an officer. Five minutes later, some soldiers came over with all their guns, and said they would get "an officer". They walked away and the Amtrak official came back, radioing and calling on his phone for a police offer. (Neither the soldiers, police, or Amtrak officials appeared to be operating on the same frequency.) All in all, it took about 25 minutes to get a police officer into the middle of Penn Station. They finally got an ambulance, who gave the guy a sternal rub and got him to stand it turned out he was drugged up.

But, 6 years after 9/11 we still don't have high enough security to instantly address any threat. This week, I also learned of a friend who accidentally took mace on a plane.... twice. I personally took might pocket knife on a plane a few years ago (by accident). My point is that unless we have an Orwellian government we will never be totally secure from terrorism. So why should we as citizens have an almost one track mind when thinking about the direction of our country? I am not saying that we should not continue security and try and prevent terrorism. I am saying that we need to think broader about what we can really do to make happy lives for ourselves, our families, our country, and our world.

What can we do that will have greater effects our lives than just focusing on security from terrorism?

Recently my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was fortunate, not only because it was found early, but because she lives in a rich country with skilled physicians and an insurance company who didn't deny her life-saving surgery. Cancer is one of the things that WE KNOW can affect our lives. Along with heart disease, and infectious diseases in the developing world, cancer is one of things that is ACTUALLY likely to affect our lives.

We know the root causes of early morbidity and mortality: smoking, poor nutrition, lack of activity in the developed world and lack of sanitation and infrastructure in the developing world. However, the real root cause of many of these factors is social inequality and poverty.

Lack of adequate health insurance in our country is such an important issue that the American Cancer Society has devoted much of its resources around the issue. Around the world access to care is an even bigger issue, but poverty confounds all these factors and causes millions of children and adults to live lives of suffering.

So instead of focusing all of our energy this year and trying to protect us from a terrorist, why not protect us from things that are much more likely to happen? Why not focus on promoting access to health care? Why not focus on providing proper nutrition and public health around our country and the world? Why not focus on reducing poverty and social inequalities?

And what do you think is the root cause of violence and terrorism? What caused the World Wars? What leads people to shoot people on the streets of our cities? Poverty and inequalities.

By fighting a new war against poverty and social inequalities we can prevent the most common things that may hurt us (disease) and the less likely (terrorism).

L'Shana Tova for a safe, happy, and healthy new year.
Let us all Be Active in fighting for a better world.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Colbert Nation Nutrition

A great interview on one of my favorite nutrition activists by one of my favorite comedians:
Watch the Video