Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Perceptions of Health Issues

Health care is a racket. Next time you visit the doctor, look around at the posters on the wall. Since breast cancer awareness month is behind us, check to see if there is a lung cancer awareness month with a national push everywhere. When you take your little kid to the pediatrician, look at the posters and forms you have to fill out. There will be an autism screening form, maybe two or three autism posters, but nothing about childhood obesity. Why is the focus on those specific diseases when the others kill many more people or occur more frequently? A byproduct of the self esteem and sensitivity culture of America today is that we overemphasize the things that "just happen" to people and not the most critical health problems facing us today.

As a new dad of a pretty cool son, I've been exposed to the hemming and hawwing of an MD (not the nursing staff or anyone else who knew my son) with regards to autism. I'm not alone. At a recent wedding, our entire table had four sets of parents, and what a coincidence, all of us had received the 'we just want to warn you' line about autism. It was a relief for all the couples to laugh at how the MDs acted to all of us. Autism happens in 1 in 115 kids (roughly). What are the odds everyone at that table had an autistic kid? Turns out no one did, but the mom of the down's syndrome kid has real issues to deal with for her daughter. There's no hemming or hawwing with down's. This is classic CYA because some lawyer in the past whispered into a devastated parent's ear, "they should've been able to detect it earlier, and Jimmy would be playing piano". A lawsuit happened, big money payout, and boom, we have a nation of MDs prepping everyone for the autism diagnosis. It's a complete overreaction, but any slight deviation in milestone achievements becomes a basis for therapy of some sorts. That's a racket. What's really weird is the lack of attention paid to children's weight. Even after we were given the thumbs up on our son, which I could've told them months earlier, there was a standard form all parents in the state fill out as a screener. Childhood obesity is an order of magnitude higher than autisim rates, but there is no screener. Imagine a form asking basic questions about a child's diet, exercise, activity levels, energy levels, sleep habits? How many fatties could we prevent if an MD could see habits on a form and give some pointers? It doesn't happen though because autism is something horrible that happens to you by the stroke of bad luck while becoming a fattie is something you bring on yourself. No matter how much mainstream media sites try to protect the obese crowd's feelings, the entire mood towards obesity is 'you brought this on yourself'. We perceive autism as a curse whereas obesity is a choice. For the good of a healthy nation, health care dollars, quality of life and overall attractiveness, screening for obesity the way pediatricians hone in on autism would be a bigger bang for our buck. It would have a greater impact on society.

Lung cancer and breast cancer fall into a similar weird focus. Lung cancer kills more women than breast, uterine and ovarian cancer COMBINED. Lung cancer kills nearly double the women breast cancer does (69K vs. 39K). Lung cancer doesn't get the happy, touchy month of devotion from the nation. Maybe that's because breast cancer just happens. In the eyes of many, it happens to one of the most beautiful body parts that helps define a woman and nourishes children whereas lung cancer is a punishmet for people that are mostly dirty, horrible, stupid underclass smokers (80% have used tobacco products). Do I think we should refocus all efforts and money spent on women's health? No, but women's magazines could do a better job of replacing half the 'breast cancer scare' articles with some articles on big ticket items like smoking, proper eating, exercise. If we reduce the obesity rate, we'd see a drop in breast cancer. The problem is that the pink ribbon beast will infect any arena it can for October. It just happens to women. A stroke of bad luck. They didn't deserve it.

No one deserves cancer. Let's stop the posing. Let's get our priorities straight.

1 comment:

odinslounge said...

Agreed, it's a complete racket. Who's gonna make out better from our new healthcare system the patients or insurance companies?

Instead of wasting the trillions it's going to cost us we would've been better off hiring a fitness instructor and dietician for all the fat bottoms at a fraction of the cost and gotten tangible results.