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The health care debate

By Staff | Sep 25, 2009

Last week we started talking about the current debate over the health care issue, I returned last week from speaking at the annual conference of the National Foundation for Women Legislators and presented them with the thought that if we don’t start taking personal (and national) responsibility for our own good health, anything they do in Washington will bankrupt us personally and as a nation. We simply cannot afford to eat like we are eating and then pay for the consequences that unfold.

For example, we are in an epidemic of adult-onset diabetes and because this disease is now exploding in incidence among children, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. Not only is diabetes expensive to treat, particularly when it is a more than decade long disease, it is coupled with the No. 1 cause of death and disability: heart disease.

According to Bonita Falkner, professor of medicine and pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, “the presence of child obesity results in higher rates of high blood pressure,” which is a major risk factor for stroke and heart attack. It is a problem that is not going to magically disappear, because obese children become obese adults. It puts children at risk for premature cardiac events at an earlier period in their adult lives.

The rate of premature heart disease among obese teens is set to triple and the increasing prevalence of high blood pressure in children is a major culprit.

Note that all of this is related to overweight and obesity. Over 66 percent of non-institutionalized adults are overweight; 32 percent are obese. Over 17 percent of adolescents are overweight, and 19 percent of children are overweight.

And then, of course, there is osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and inflammation is at the core of these diseases which is highly preventable through diet and lifestyle modifications.

We haven’t even mentioned mental illness. In any given year, over 26 percent of Americans (young and old) could be diagnosed with a mental illness, and of these, nearly half meet the criteria for two or more disorders.

These are staggering numbers. But, as I have mentioned, every issue of which we have spoken is largely preventable!

Here is a question for you: I work very hard to maintain my health and I thank my Heavenly Father for my good health. I eat mostly organic, get plenty of sleep, and take natural products when anything minor comes along. In other words, I avoid medications whenever humanly possible. The only thing I don’t do regularly is exercise (yes, I know!).

But if my neighbor smokes, eats garbage, and otherwise abuses his/her body, why should I now be shouldered with the responsibility of paying for his poor health choices?

Carol is a certified lifestyle educator at the offices of Dr. Alan Gruning in Fort Myers. She owns the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel. She can be reached at 472-4499.