Tag Archives: policy

Culture and Healthcare

27 May

Of the 2.5 million deaths that occur annually in the United States, almost half are preventable.  Not by better drugs (or more), by better doctors (or more), or by better hospitals (or more), but rather by better personal choices on healthcare.   Dan Akst abstracts a new study showing that a modification in the 12 dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors could save 1 million lives per year.   Compare that to the 18,000 lives that could be saved by moving to a system of universal healthcare, and you wonder why there’s no such thing as an “Exercise Lobby.”  While the numbers may be new, the fact that exercise and a healthy diet lead to a longer, more enriching life is so commonplace as to be not worth debating or discussing.  

How did our culture become this way?  How did we go from active and energetic to lazy and lethargic?  How might we go back?  What role can each of us play in promoting a culture that takes account of the 12 risk factors which determine the life and death of our fellow citizens?  If you believe (as I do) that personal choices are informed by one’s culture, then what can we as the living embodiments of American culture do to set a better example? 

 I’ve heard many times that where you end up in your career and your life is largely influenced by the five people who you spend the most time with.  Thinking beyond your your city, your state, or our country, and focusing only on the five people you spend time with, what impact does the “culture” of your life have on their lives and more specifically on their healthcare? 

I wonder if anyone has considered whether the drive for government control or more regulation is derived from a disbelief in our own power and influence.  A demonstration of our personal power is readily available in our healthcare choices.  From choosing not to smoke or choosing to exercise with a friend, we save the lives that matter most to us, our own and those of our friends.  It is both more readily achievable and more personally satisfying than the passage of incremental healthcare legislation.

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