Collective Effort for Better Health Is Not Socialism ?

By McLoughlin, Pam | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), September 10, 2012 | Go to article overview

Collective Effort for Better Health Is Not Socialism ?


McLoughlin, Pam, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


www.davidkatzmd.com www.turnthetidefoundation.org

We, the people of the United States, are not socialists. But we, like all people, are social -- and it's not even a choice.

We are innately, biologically social creatures. Not all animals are. Adult male polar bears are loners. So are tigers. But we, like creatures as diverse as dolphins and ants, wolves and chimpanzees, bees and lions, always have been social animals.

Why do I care? Because our attitudes about all things social have a direct impact my day job.

Culture is social; culture shapes behavior; and behavior shapes health. In fact, our behaviors and the social institutions that influence them have a greater impact on health than anything else.

A steady stream of research publications dating to 1993 have reaffirmed consistently that fully 80 percent of the chronic disease burden in modern society (heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, etc.) could be eliminated with better use of fingers (not smoking), forks (better dietary patterns) and feet (more routine physical activity). Feet, forks, and fingers are the master levers of medical destiny, exerting a vastly more potent influence on years in life and life in years than everything else under the rubric of so- called "health care" combined.

And yet, this knowledge has not proven to be power. We have known for 20 years that we could make heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer disappear eight times in 10, but have not done so. What stands in the way?

For one thing, the companies profiting from the status quo. It's the very opposite of socialism; pure, unfettered capitalism.

But for another, it's our lack of collective action. It's our resistance to policies and programs that could help make eating well and being active every day the norm in our society.

Often, that resistance takes the form of calls for personal responsibility -- an every man, woman, and child for him/herself mentality.

But while it's true that how I use my feet and fork is up to me, is anyone truly nave enough to think that environmental and social factors are irrelevant? Since we now have widespread obesity and type 2 diabetes among 7- and 8-year-olds, and never did before, are we to infer that today's 7-year-olds have less personal responsibility than every prior cohort? …

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