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Fixin' Healthcare

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Boy Named Sue

I acknowledge that polls are designed and administered in a manner that produces reliable results, but the validity of polls addressing highly emotional and personal topics is questionable in my view. Under those circumstances people will often reserve negative views in favor of how they might wish things to be.

The poll conducted by the market research firm NPD Group and reported in USA Today indicates that people are more accepting of excess body weight. I do not have a formal poll but I discuss the topic of weight with at least 100 people each week who are overweight or obese. And, I take the opportunity to discuss the topic with people who are not overweight. These people are frustrated and perhaps resigned to excess weight, but they are not accepting of excess weight. People perceive that excess body weight is unattractive and a health hazard. They may be symphathetic but they are not accepting.

Two reports in the January 11th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association offer further confirmation that overweight and obesity is a health hazard. Lijing Yan and collegues at Northwestern University linked overweight and obesity at age 31 through 64 years with hospitalization and death from coronary artery disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes after age 65 years. Also, a large international study demonstrates that people worldwide with coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral arterial disease often have risk factors such as obesity and hypertension that are undertreated and undercontrolled.

The challenge is not to sweep an obvious marker of unhealthy lifestyle under the rug but to find ways to solve the problem. The song recorded by Johnny Cash might be appropriate.

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