Diet | Nutrition
Dan Munro wrote that annual U.S. healthcare spending will hit $3.8 trillion this year (~21% of GDP). There’s good info in his Forbes article and the referenced Deloitte report, but it should not be taken politically one way or another. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data shows a slow bending of the cost curve, where the increases in health care expenditures are slowing slightly, the increase is slower than the economy, and it’s slightly slower than in previous years. Still, many of us hope to see costs decline outright, and by a lot.
To me, the real value is recognizing that there are hidden costs not captured in the official 2012 estimate of $2.8 trillion/year. Read the rest of this entry »
By Arthur Delaney (original on Huffington Post)
ROANOKE, Va. — William McCormick remembers from his working-class upbringing in Covington, Va., that neighbors took care of neighbors.
“Both my parents worked in the mill,” he said. “For people in the neighborhood who were hungry we’d make up two or three bags of groceries, put $5 or $10 in it, set it on the porch, knock on the door and leave. We wouldn’t tell ‘em who did it.”
Now McCormick is 70 years old and living alone in a one-bedroom apartment in a six-story building. Only about 40 of the building’s 144 units are occupied. The parking lots are barren and the hallways are dingy with torn carpets. McCormick considers the building “spooky.”
Some Disturbing Stats:
- There are already 40M seniors 65+ today, with 10,000 more reaching age 65 every day.
- 40% of them are low-income (below 150% of poverty level) and will need public assistance.
- The poverty threshold for a family of four is $22,113, and the 2010 average income of the bottom 90% was $26.364.
- People 90+ had a median income of just $14,760 in 2010, about half of it from Social Security. 37.3% of them lived alone and depend on services like Meels on Wheels.
Because March is National Nutrition Month, we’re featuring this infographic (below) and these related articles.
- America’s Obesity Epidemic, a BIG Problem – features the trailer and all four episodes of HBO’s documentary, “The Weight of the Nation,” along with a collection of supporting statistics.
- How States are Battling Obesity – a byline article by Scott Kahan, M.D., an Obesity Medicine physician and Director of STOP Obesity Alliance
- Is Obesity a Disease – discusses the pros and cons of labeling it as a disease or just a risk factor for health problems and not a disease itself
- MyPlate replaces Food Pyramid – Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveil the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate, to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices
- The Hunter-Gatherer Diet – Dr. Terry Wahls presents an incredible TEDx talk, shares how she learned to properly fuel her body, and tells of the diet that cured her MS and allowed her to get out of her wheelchair
- Six Ways TV Might Be Killing You – about typical Americans who watch an average of four hours and 39 minutes of television every day, one-quarter of their waking life, and how their lives may shorten considerably
- Donuts Don’t Grow on Trees – a music video about healthy eating by health advocate Barry David Butler
- A Place at the Table –- a new documentary about the relationship between Poverty, Hunger & Health
- Working Poor Families Struggle to Pay Bills – featuring statistics and a video of Congresswoman Nancy Peloci about the direct relationship between poverty, obesity, and the cost of healthcare.
- Poverty in America – featuring The Line, an important documentary that covers the stories of people across the country living at or below the poverty line
- Sleep Apnea and Poverty – a byline article by doctors Susan Redline and Michelle Williams about how socioeconomics impacts proper diagnosis and treatment
- Americans are Sicker and Die Younger – a byline article by Marty Kaplan, Director, Norman Lear Center and Professor at the USC Annenberg School
- What the Fork — featuring the $100 HAPIfork device that functions like a friendly shock collar by paying attention to when you eat, how many bites you take, and the intervals between each bite, vibrating to tell you when you’re eating too fast or too much
Why do we need a smart fork, you may ask? Well, here’s the hype…
Studies show that people who eat slower eat 11% fewer calories and digest food better, so HAPILABS introduced 2 devices at CES: HAPIfork and HAPItrack. The dishwasher safe HAPIfork got immense press coverage, including articles in Consumer Reports and Bon Appetit, as well as placement on the Stephen Colbert Show (see video below).
This latest electronic gadget functions like a friendly shock collar by paying attention to when you eat, how many bites you take, and the intervals between each bite, vibrating to tell you when you’re eating too fast or too much. The goal is to encourage you to slow down, chew your food, improve your digestion, transform the way you eat, and… enjoy life more. HAPIfork then communicates with your smartphone so you can track your eating habits or share them with friends online. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s the Health Care, Stupid:
As Our Health Goes, So Does Our Economic Recovery
By Peter Abaci, M.D., Chronic pain specialist
(original on Huffington Post)
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
– Albert Einstein
As we head into the final stages leading up to election day, expect the fight over whom and what is best for our economy to rage on. Debating how best to stimulate the economy has been anointed as the de facto topic of importance heading into our upcoming election, but let’s not forget that the health of Wall Street and Main Street is inextricably linked to the health of our citizens. As I have written here in the past, I am no economic expert, but I do work in the trenches every day in a profession that impacts our nation’s budget like no other.
The fact that doctors like me seem to drive the spending of tax dollars more than other occupations like teachers, governors, and generals tells you right there that health care is the elephant in the room of any debate on our economic future.
Reprinted with permission from Online Psychology Degree
According to the latest statistics, watching television is America’s No. 1 pastime, and Americans watch an average of four hours and 39 minutes of television every day. For people lucky enough to get eight hours of sleep a night, the time spent watching television eats up one-quarter of their waking life, and their life may shorten considerably unless they can summon up the nerve to unplug their big screens. So before you set your DVR to record the two-hour premiere of that new reality show where two competing families of forensic scientists swap their pets for medical experiments, consider these six ways watching television might be killing you.
1. Too much sitting:
By Susan Redline, MD, MPH and Dr. Michelle A. Williams, ScD
Individuals from disadvantaged neighborhoods and racial/ethnic minorities are at increased risk for sleep disorders due to a variety of environmental exposures, occupational and psychosocial conditions, and possibly genetic factors. Editor: They also have higher rates of obesity and other health conditions, and they don’t live as long.
A wide range of serious health problems disproportionately afflict individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. These conditions, which reduce quality of life and shorten lifespan, include heart disease, stroke, diabetes,asthma, and cancer. Other health problems commonly associated with poverty are obesity,pregnancy complications, increased infant mortality,HIV/AIDS and dental disease. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s “Healthy People 2020,” which sets 10-year national objectives for improving the health of the nation, has prioritized the need to close the gap in these “health disparities.” There are numerous potential targets for improving the health of low-income people, such as improving nutrition and access to health care. In addition, accumulating research points to a need to improve sleep as means for improving alertness and daily functioning, as well as for reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Occupy Healthcare is a movement to influence and impact the future of healthcare, as well as an online community to discuss healthcare reform issues. Recently they invited me to submit my perspectives, and below is what I sent.
Occupy Health Care – a proposal from Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk
Historically, the biggest impact in health outcomes has come from public health initiatives such as clean water, sewage systems, and immunization programs. But that success is minimized by a “sick care” system that is profoundly broken, with perverse incentives to view patients as customers, treat symptoms, and pay practitioners for each test, drug and procedure.
ACA is meant to fix that, with more emphasis on positive outcomes and overall health & wellness, both to minimize the need for medical care in the first place and thus reduce costs, and to maintain a healthy and productive workforce that contributes to a vibrant economy. ACA is a good start, but there’s still more work to be done, and it won’t come from private industry or the insurance model, because natural incentives prevent it.
I believe that the key to health reform is getting the incentives right, and that means getting private insurance companies out of BASIC health care entirely. Their profit motive gives them an incentive to increase costs, knowing that higher costs = more insurance customers paying higher premiums. What I propose instead is a hybrid public/private model that capitalizes on contrasting incentives, eliminates the need for health insurance, and saves over $1 trillion per year.
Professor Carl J. Schramm wrote about Improving the Nation’s Health with More Efficient Care as part of a GE Ideas Roundtable that included two good interactive infographics about working in America and how different nations view innovation. But I don’t think improving the efficiency of care is where the biggest benefits lie, so I added this comment:
Technology can be a two-edge sword. On one hand it has contributed to the doubling of the amount of published medical information every year or two, causing general practitioners to specialize just to keep up with changes in their field. On the other hand, innovations such as telehealth, remote monitoring and analysis of medical & environmental sensors, and IBM’s Watson supercomputer applied to medical diagnostics, will help to move many procedures and tests down-market from MD to PA, NP, RN, aid and consumers in their homes.
But aren’t we still addressing the wrong problem? It’s not so much about the efficiency of delivering care but eliminating the need for it. We currently have a “sick care” system, not a health care system, and that’s the real problem to focus on. When patients are viewed as customers of the health care system, practitioners and institutions have financial incentives to keep them as patients – i.e. treat symptoms rather than provide cures or prevent illness in the first place. Even health insurance providers fuel this backwards view, since more demand for medical care leads to higher premiums and larger profits.
Some of the most effective progress in health care has come from public health programs such as immunization, clean water, and education about smoking, nutrition, and exercise. I’d throw poverty and obesity into that mix since, according to HBO’s documentary The Weight of the Nation, public health officials can reliably predict a community’s average weight by zip code and have noticed lifespan differences of more than 20 years between poor neighborhoods on one side of town and affluent ones on the other side just 8 miles away.