Health Affairs journal prints my impassioned letter over obesity
After blogging about this new study that found tripling Medicare costs was the direct result of the doubling in obesity rates among Medicare recipients, I received a very kind reply from the lead researcher Dr. Kenneth E. Thorpe from Emory University.
"Congrats to you on your leadership in this," Dr. Thorpe wrote in an e-mail. "I am doing several talks on this in DC this month to drive home the message. Key here is absent a clear understanding of what is driving up the growth in spending, it becomes impossible to effect meaningful change in Medicare or the growth in private insurance."
Dr. Thorpe was so pleased with my enthusiasm and concern over this issue that he forwarded my comments to Andrea Zuercher, managing editor for the journal that Dr. Thorpe's study was published in called Health Affairs. You can view the full text of the study by clicking here.
Zuercher said she discussed with her editorial staff about having me draft a letter in response to be posted on the Health Affairs web site.
"We'd like to invite you to submit an eLetter in response to his article, for posting on our Web site," she wrote to me.
I'm never one to let an opportunity to share my opinion on such an important subject pass by, so I agreed. You can view the entire response letter that was based on my blog post from the other day with a few additions here and there by clicking here.
Here's are a few brief excerpts from my letter:
"Why do we think anything will change if we keep giving the same lifestyle advice that has been hammered down the collective throats of the American people for decades? Obviously, something is not working, or we wouldn't be in the mess we are in. The answer may not necessarily lie in more of the same, but rather new, fresh approaches to educating the public about what constitutes a healthy diet and fitness program."
"If you genuinely want to bring about effective change in the hearts and minds of the American people regarding healthy living, so they don't come into the Medicare system as a ticking timebomb just waiting to explode and suck every last dollar out of the Medicare budget, then you need to begin urging government officials and medical leaders to immediately start educating people about other alternatives to the low-fat diet approach. Sure, this will anger some of the hard-nosed bureaucrats who don't want to hear the truth, but our current dietary recommendations have done nothing but exacerbate the obesity problem and make it worse than it has ever been."
"What we need now more than ever are genuine bold new leaders on this issue to stand courageously in the face of the staunchest critics and declare, "This is the right thing to do." Who will these brave and honorable leaders be? How about members of Congress? Medical professionals? Is there anyone ready to take me up on my recommendation that Americans be given the facts about many different weight-loss plans so they can decide which one is best for them?"
I hope my letter is read by the policymakers and health officials who need to see it. We are at a point in the history of the world where if we don't start changing the way we're doing things regarding health recommendations and information, then the United States of America could very well eat its way to destruction. To some that sounds preposterous, but this problem with Medicare is JUST the beginning.
The people who are preventing the average American from getting the information they need to make lifestyle choices for themselves need to look into the not-too-distant future and see what the unintended consequences of their actions will cause. It's not gonna be pretty unless SERIOUS changes are made about what we call a "healthy diet" in this country.
Do you have an opinion about this and would like to respond to the Health Affairs journal with your comments? You can submit your letter by clicking here and following the instructions provided. If the editorial staff approves of your letter, then it will be posted within a few days.
WE CANNOT LET THIS PROBLEM GO UNADDRESSED!