We have met the enemy and he is?

As you can see from the picture, the complete quote is “we have met the enemy and he is us” courtesy of Walt Kelly and his cartoon character Pogo.

So why am I borrowing it for today’s headline. Because when it comes to the state of health care in this country I feel it is appropriate to discuss. Now, while in many ways you will find this has a political aspect to it, believe me when I say this discussion has nothing to do with either being a democrat or a republican, it has to do with being an American. It has no bearing on whether or not you like the democratic or republican agenda on healthcare. It is not even a discussion if ever one should have similar health care. What this discussion is about is the notion of “Affordable Health Care”.

The United States of America has lead the world in many different aspects some of them are not so good. As a country we lead the world in divorce rate, drug use and crime among some of the not so notable categories. But for this article it is the issue of health, or lack of, that we lead the world in. We have more obesity, more diabetes, more metabolic disease than any other country in the world, and subsequently we lead the world in prescriptions taken. (but maybe we shouldn’t feel all bad, the rest of the world is getting sicker too, we just lead the pack by a large margin)

I would like to add a quote from a book I just finished called Food Politics by Marion Nestle

“Ethical or not a message to eat less meat, dairy and processed food is not going to be popular among the producers of such foods. It will only have limited popularity with producers of fruits and vegetables because their scale of production is limited and they cannot add easily value to their products. The message will not be popular with cattle ranchers, meat packers’ dairy producers or milk bottlers, oil seed growers, processors or transporters, grain producers (most grain is used to feed cattle), makers of soft drinks, candy bars and snack foods. Owners of fast food outlets and franchise restaurants, media corporations and advertising agencies, manufacturers and marketers of televisions and computers where advertising takes place and eventually drug and health care industries likely to lose business if people stay healthier longer. The range of economic sectors affected if people changed their diets, avoided obesity and l prevented chronic disease surely rivals the range of businesses affected if people stopped smoking cigarettes.”

If you read the quote carefully, at this time in our country, the only way to affordable health care is if you take responsibility for yourself. You can’t depend on the government legislating health nor can you depend on the food industry to help you either. It is our individual responsibility that will lead to collective changes. Our poor diets, habits and increased obesity (and some call it an epidemic) may be the real issue of healthcare reform.

In our country, at this time, insurance premiums are set by looking at the entire population of a state and then the insurance companies use their statistics to come up with premiums. So, even though I do not smoke, all the smokers in the state of California do force me to pay higher premiums. Our poor diets and increased sugar consumption have led to an alarming increase in obesity in this country which, in turn, has lead to a dramatic increase in diabetes and other health issues (which all cost money to treat).

According to Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland clinic about 75% of all disease in the US can be prevented or reversed. The 4 critical areas are smoking, diet, lack of exercise and stress management. In his address to the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health Dr. Roizen challenged us healthcare providers to be leaders in trying to reverse the dangerous road we are headed down.

So, if you look at the costs of healthcare, even if you allow for all the changes the political system can throw out at you, if we do not change our habits we will keep getting sicker and needing more health care…and consequently higher costs and higher premiums. You and I have choices, we can either be part of the problem or part of the solution.


But now you understand the title of this blog is we have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.

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