Friday, October 16, 2009

Go small and save the world- and yourself!!

Blog Action Day 09!
I've been thinking about preventing cardiovascular disease and associated problems like diabetes (which follows obesity) and kidney failure (which follows diabetes)...etc. SO much of the medical and scientific literature is about what they conveniently term "secondary and tertiary prevention"- but that is all AFTER THE FACT! The community seems to be abysmally slack in stopping it all from starting in the first place- even with adults who are already headed down the heart disease track we say "It's your individual responsibility to exercise and eat properly" as though that absolves everyone from worrying about it any more. I've come to the conclusion that we have to stop all this Anglo-Saxon protestant crap about responsibility- TELLING us what we SHOULD DO...and BELIEVE humans are basically neglectful sods far more interested in "The Moment" and start SHOWING US WHAT TO DO!
Give us a bl**dy DEMONSTRATION every day and keep showing us. Encourage us to join in ALL THE TIME, come walking and playing in the park with us and tell us we're doing OK. Where are the personal trainers for every neighbourhood? PLEASE MR RUDD! Why don't we do it first in Australia and show the rest of the world we will not fall into the Western black hole of fat and sloth!
It frankly gives me the creeps when people my own age are having stents in their coronary arteries, being investigated for mini-strokes and have been put on drastic hospital-directed diets and prescriptive exercise programs they find deadly boring!
I know that lots of so-called "cost effectiveness" studies have shown that many heart disease and obesity prevention programs are not "worth it"- but I think they've left something vital out of their equations. What about all the wasted resources teenagers and adults have put into getting fat and clagging up their arteries?? Can't we count that as a potential saving for the future? As a small person, (though no longer sylph-like! LOL), I have always been pissed off with the wear and tear caused by larger people- not only do you consume more than your fair share of the planet's food, you also wear out the environment faster- paths, roads, lawns, carpets, furniture, cars- everything- you great galumphing sods!! Your clothes are bigger- taking more earthly resources (cotton and linen) and more petroleum (synthetic fibres), there are kilometres more sewing in your seams, tonnes more rubber in your shoes, less space and more load in your fridges! An article in the New York Times seems to agree with me a lot!
Here's someone else who seems to have cottoned on as well!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Catching fat habits- currently popular press

There have been a number of comments and critiques on some research coming out of the classic Framingham Heart Study on the phenomenon of "the obesity epidemic". It is certainly within the realm of social psychology that you can acquire the habits of friends by using them as your role models. The New York Times article on the topic is here:
The original article is here in full: spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 Christakis NA, and Fowler JH. In the New England Journal of Medicine.

I'm particularly interested to read: Is obesity contagious? Social networks vs. environmental factors in the obesity epidemic. by Cohen-Cole E, and Fletcher JM. from the Journal of Health Economics as it will be good for my major essay!
I must try to find some of the diagrams I saw which illustrated how the obesity clusters related to each other, linking groups of obese individuals and showing isolated slimmer ones. Grr- can't find it in my Favourites Folder now.
Try the video:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Quick bit on obesity prevention

Today was a bit deadly to blog about, but anyhow... I did get a fair bit done on my health economics assignment. I was exploring materials on the estimated costs of prevention campaigns against obesity and cardiovascular disease. Most of the studies done are of older people who already attend their GP with a risk factor or early disease- they already have high blood pressure, obesity, high bad cholesterol levels or diabetes 2- or a combination of these. The researchers just look at the costs of giving them various drugs and using verbal information to encourage them to eat more wisely and lose weight. I'm much more interested in the primary end of prevention, where young children and their families are encouraged to eat wisely from the beginning and to make exercise a natural and enjoyable part of their lives, so that it doesn't seem like a chore later in life.
There are lots of recommendations and suggestions from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and FAO on primary prevention, but I haven't heard of any great implementation efforts in Australia. I just came across a Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin Uni, but I'd never heard of it before- which is a bit odd since I'm studying public health in Australia already.
This piece actually got transported over from my personal blog.
My overall view is that our national governments need to incorporate healthy exercise into the national healthcare programs, putting as much emphasis on getting people to participate from early childhood as they do on other things. How would we feel if exercise was given as much funding as GP visits, hospital admissions, drugs and pathology tests!? It seems a bit odd at first encounter, but to me its a logical transition- let's see someone taking some steps in this direction.