Sunday, November 22, 2009

The UNhealthy Care Debate


We are in the middle of a health care debate in this country. It's kind of hard to follow. Our elected leaders and a whole host of lobbyists, business owners and medical professionals are fighting toward compromise on a lot of complicated issues that many think will help us what? . . .be a healthier nation? Mainly the Bill now being debated in our congress is focused on care and coverage for the unhealthy. I understand that there are many complexities here but we all would have an easier time sorting through this if we were a healthier nation.
We are not a healthy nation and we are trending toward even worse health.

Consider this the minority report.

Obesity is a big problem . Its not just being a little overweight but really overweight. And guess which country ranks #1 as the fattest country in the world? Maybe you haven't been paying attention - its the US. Check out this chart by the OECD And being obese causes lots of serious health problems. Obesity-related medical conditions contribute to 300,000 deaths each year, second only to smoking as a cause of preventable death in the US (JAMA, 1996; 276:1907-1915) and it looks like if current trends continue it will pass smoking before long. Check out this scary chart on the obesity epidemic in America
So all of this was on my mind when I came across an article in the "Health and Fitness in the News" section on my blog. (Scroll down on the right side). In Texas they wanted to assess the fitness levels of school aged kids. Maybe they were thinking they might learn something about fitness trends. Anyway, the details of this fitness assessment can wait to be debated another time, I just ask that you have a look at that chart in the upper left of this post (click on it to view it larger.) On the left of the chart are the school districts where this assessment was conducted. I'm certain that various socioeconomic and ethnic factors are involved in the range of kids who scored "fit" on this assessment but take a look at the trends. On average third graders are fitter than sixth, ninth and twelfth graders. Actually the trend goes exactly that way, as the kids get older they are less fit. Less fit means less healthy. We are not teaching our kids to be fit and healthy. We are not addressing the core problem.

The illiteracy rate in the US is only 1%. If we could get the obesity rate that low we would be having a very different health care debate.

No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.

-Covert Bailey


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