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Fixin' Healthcare

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Lifestyle Chronicles - One Day At A Time

I worry about studies and reports that focus upon just one aspect of lifestyle for answers to obesity and health status. Obesity and related health problems have always been with us but the incidence began rising in the 1970's and 1980's. There have been numerous efforts to identify the causes(s) but very few of them were well designed or reliable.

Of course, causes and solutions have been proposed. People have rushed to benefit from the "new way" until the "next new way" comes along. It is a breeding ground for cynicism and the continuing rise in the incidence of obesity, diabetes and hypertension speak to the lack of success.

The parable of the blind men and the elephant applies here. Each one is feeling a part of the elephant and extrapolating to describe the whole. There is no single aspect of lifestyle or diet that explains health status but each aspect influences health. Likewise, there is no drug or supplement that corrects the impact of unhealthy lifestyle on health status.

Was it too much, too little and/or the wrong kind of fat, carbohydrate or protein in the diet, too little physical activity, too much stress, too little sleep, too many drugs, change in family habits, eating out and "on the go", too much processed food, altered fats, surplus corn and corn syrup, not eating whole foods, etc. Well, yes, these and probably more.

People live one day at a time and they need the encouragement, discipline and focus to organize each day around a healthy lifestyle. Each day consists of the things that must be done, the things that need to be done and the things that people want to do. With a little planning and organization, these things do not have to be mutually exclusive.

People eat food (Where is the nutrition label on broccoli and spinach? Is obesity the result of overeating carrots?). People are physically active; they walk, climb stairs, mow the lawn, rake leaves, move furniture. People are mentally engaged in activities. People have families and social networks.

People need to have a plan and get a life, one day at a time. Today is last month's next month and last year's next year. How about doing it today? If it was easy to do, no one would have a problem but it helps if we all do it together. Personal responsibility and community commitment, please!!!!

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