• Four Vices

    on Aug 27th, 2016

In a previous editorial, I railed against the ObamaCare legislation for having missed the point of what is needed to actually improve the nation’s health. In the spirit of the Clinton Foundation’s patronage of the recent Humana Challenge golf tournament, I have decided to focus on what may actually improve our health. In addition to rescuing the erstwhile Bop Hope tournament, Humana is to be credited with enlisting the PGA and PGA players to promote healthy lifestyles. They have focused a wellness campaign on a simple concept: walking is good for you.

I had the pleasure of playing in the Bob Hope Charity Pro-Am, as well as attending the tournament, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Humana has “put its money where its mouth is.” In addition to reporting the players’ scores, scoreboards also reported the number of steps walked. Tourney patrons were continually encouraged to walk, and pedometers to measure steps were widely distributed. The impetus for this campaign is based upon the fact that as a nation, we are fat. The average national BMI (a measure of fatness) has doubled in the last two decades. Walking 10,000 steps per day burns about 2,000 calories. Simple exercise that everybody can do.

I have long contended that doctors in this country are kept in business and kept busy because of 4 American vices: We eat too much, we drink too much, we smoke too much, and we sit on the couch too much. And now, our kids have become chips off the old block. Childhood obesity is linked to Type II diabetes, unheard of when I started medical school in the mid 1980’s. Obesity also has been linked to arthritis, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and back trouble. Alcohol contributes to obesity, bad decision making, like drunk or “buzzed” driving, and liver and kidney disease. Smoking causes heart disease, strokes, blood clots, and lung and throat cancer. Inactivity causes obesity, arthritis, and osteoporosis. The cycle is neverending.

No amount of legislation can really improve our health, especially when we are intent on killing ourselves through our own behavior. Fortunately, most of these conditions can be reversed or slowed. The first step for all of us is to get up and take that first step. It could be a walk in the park.

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