Sunday, March 14, 2010

Advance Info From Healthy People 2010

Health & Human Services establish health and disease prevention goals every decade in a program called the Healthy People Project.  Although the next report isn't due until 2011; early reports suggest that the Healthy People Project goals are down 41 percent from the last decade.

In the area of nutrition, the percentage of people consuming the recommended servings of vegetables and grains per day has ranged from 4 to 11 percent during the past 9 years, well short of the 2010 50 percent target. In 2000, 25 percent of the population was obese. The HHS goal was to lower that number to 15 percent by 2010. The report suggests that the number of obese US citizens has actually increased to 34 percent.

Given that excess weight and improper nutrition increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes and eye disease, just to name a few, our government disease prevention messages don't seem to be getting to the public, or a large portion of the medical community.

It doesn't help when doctors refuse to discuss weight issues with their patients because it's uncomfortable for the doctor.  Nor, does it help when doctors tell their patients that they can get all the nutrients they need from their diets, since over 90 percent of the patients they see in their practices are nutrient deficient, 34 percent are obese and 65 percent are overweight -  if the HHS numbers are right.

Adequate nutrition has, sadly, become a major societal and economic issue.  High-profit, nutrient-empty high-calorie junk food, which is more often than not subsidized by our government, is relatively inexpensive and the most, or only food affordable to a large percentage of our population who have families to feed on low incomes.

The enormous healthcare costs associated with low-cost, nutrient-deficient fast and center-of-the-supermarket food should concern the tax paying public, and certainly the mainstream medical profession.


Spencer Thornton, M.D. said...

It is unfortunate that so many of us ignore the warning signs of the growing obesity epidemic and its consequences of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, vascular and coronary disease.
Full stomachs do not equate to adequate nutrition. High calorie junk food leaves you nutritionally deficient and susceptible to disease.

Jeffrey said...

EXCELLENT post- hope it starts to sink in....!!!

Dan Roberts (Director, MD Support) said...

I don't think we can blame it on ignorance. A person would have to be living in a cave these days to not know what's good for him. No, we have to break through the apathy, and I'm afraid that can happen, in many cases, only when it becomes personal.

Just keep putting the good information out there, Ellen. Then, as people wake up to reality, it will be there for them. And let's hope they don't wait until it's too late.

gwen fox said...

Ellen.....great article. With health care going up and up it would seem people would stop and educate themselves on what they could do to stay healthy. One of the problems is our "always on the go society". When health becomes a personal issue our world stops and we become more aware of our habits,thoughts and how we value ourselves.

Leonard said...

After the indictment, the last paragraph seems tame. This should be a concern for everyone.

Bill said...


I'm overweight at 208 lbs for 5'10". At 63 years of age I probably should be below 185, but I'd be happy to be at 185lbs. My circulation is degrading as I feel tingles in my arms at night. Blood pressure is low and my heart beat unsteady and slower than it should be. These issues are individually not supposed to be dangerous, but together they represent a more serious matter related to heart disease.

The problem seems to be television and the internet and it's impact on youth and all the rest of us.

When we were young physical education was mandatory, but these days our youth, and most of the rest of us, are much less inclined to be active.

It appears that you're right about things getting worse. Now I hear on the news that Americans are submitting themselves to more health testing than is good for them and I wonder if that represents insurance company pressure on the system.

Here we are faced with health care reform that it appears the majority of Americans oppose. Even while the numbers of uninsured grows at an alarming rate.

Diet and inactivity are at the root of the problem and I'm looking for answers myself. How do we change the deteriorating physical condition of Americans and find an economical means to provide at least basic health care for everyone?

Seems we've been on the wrong path for many generations and I doubt that politicians will provide the answer with their current efforts.

That leaves it up to me to do for myself. this spring I must walk at least three times a week. I must avoid junk food and the convenience fast food providers. Eat at home, buy locally raised meats and produce, continue to provide my own garden produce. Eat simply with less red meat and more cold water fish and range raised poultry. Try to determine what medical actions are required to provide the best odds for beating heart disease.

Every individual needs to do this on a high priority right from cradle. Thanks for your wisdom and energy on this matter because I have no idea how our nation can get started or what changes on a national level will actually be in our best interests.


Hailey said...

I pay my doctor to tell me the truth not to stroke my ego. Its a shame so many people are overweight and their doctors are not telling them how unhealthly they are and how to help. I take my vitamins and fish oil everyday because I know I don't eat all the nutrients and good food I should. People should really start understanding that if they don't get healthly by excersing, eating right and taking their vitamins its only going to cost them more money for their insurance. I don't see why its so hard for people to understand.

Jerry Ames said...

Ellen, I agree with Leonard. Why did you wimp out?

Elizabeth F said...

Given that the Supreme Court recently gave the industry lobbists a pass to buy our politicians with no limits on campaign funding, it's time for the public to use their most powerful tool, their buying power, and absolutely refuse to purchase food for their families that does more harm than good.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA said...


That is easier for us to do since our families are grown and flown. It's not so easy for younger people with smaller incomes and a lot of mouths to feed.

And Bill also makes a good point. Now that so many folks work more than 40 hours a week to make ends meet (if they can find a job), empty-calorie fast food has become the food of choice when there is limited time to cook and limited food resources.

The obvious solution is to open a no white food nutrient-dense, low-calorie, fast food chain restaurants with a focus on loads of fresh vegetables, low-glycemic grains and nuts, small amounts of meat and fruit.

Maybe it could be called White Food Limited.

Paul said...

We all need to wake up and do more for our own good, no doubt in my mind. I am no exception, being 20+ pounds overweight and attempting to be in a better routine on eating and exercise.

One thought for the insurance industry, is to reward the (few) actively health conscious with discount insurance rates. (Insurance companies offer discounts for Good Driver, Good Students, Home Security Systems etc, as they lower risk.) Annual doctor certification required to renew this discount assures annual physicals. This makes health insurance more affordable for the low health risk. This is oversimplified, but maybe a start. We are all motivated in the pocketbook.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA said...

I love the idea of rewarding healthy habits with lower insurance premiums. If memory serves, the state of Alabama is doing this with state employee health insurance coverage.

Donald St.Claire, MD said...

Hi Ellen,

A timely and articulate (no surprise) article. The reasons are certainly multifactorial but the economy has certainly contributed. When people struggle to pay rent, heat and light, health supplements i.e.vitamins and other nutritional products are among the first they forego. Add to this the ease of fast food in an ever accelerating pace of life and the woeful ignorance of the general public
(17% do not know where babies come from!!) and you have the perfect formula for rampant obesity, premature death from a host of preventable diseases.

Anonymous said...

The only way to turn our nation's health problems around long term is to begin teaching children about nutrition in elementary school. Our educational system is focused on test scores rather than the child as a whole. We need a nationwide health information program to reach the genenal public with the link between sickness and nutrition.

Diego Cosmo said...
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