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Fixin' Healthcare

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Lifestyle Chronicles - Don't Go It Alone

Treating medical care as a private matter is a social preference that has become health care policy. There is no evidence to support this policy as beneficial for therapeutic outcomes. However, there is substantial evidence that optimum health is best achieved with the support of family, friends, schools, workplace and formal or informal groups in the community.

It is not a private matter for the community to promote optimum health and prevention of disease. Each person must learn to access and benefit from community support and each person or group must learn how to provide support. Healthy lifestyle need not, and perhaps should not, carry any trappings of medical (sick) care. Achieving and maintaining optimum health has more in common with a barn raising than a visit to the emergency room.

The WATCH IT program is described in the September issue of the Archives of Diseases in Childhood. This community-based effort was developed to help obese children living in poor neighborhoods. It consists of counseling and motivational meetings with children and their parents plus group sports sessions. The results are promising and considerably better than results obtained in studies of clinical programs.

A program from Australia for prevention strategies in schools that move beyond health education to promoting positive social environments has demonstrated positive results for 13 and 14 year-old students. Health risks, such as heavy substance abuse, fighting and having sex were reduced. A progress report is included in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The World Heart Federation has joined the World Economoc Forum to launch a workplace wellness initiative entitled "Working Toward Wellness". The effort will focus upon expanding wellness programs in businesses and linking these programs to initiatives within the community.

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