Every year Americans get larger. We are getting fatter, and we care less about the health risks. As a physician, I can see the effect on health, but societal pressure is going opposite to the medical evidence. The science is being ignored to spare the feelings of the obese.
As we spare the feelings of the obese, we are doing several things that will harm us all. We are making obesity socially acceptable and have gone further to pretend that highlighting obesity is the same as racist speech. It is not. As obesity increases in prevalence, the conditions that create obesity are becoming normalized. In the long term, this impacts our children and leaves them with a lifetime of obesity. Obesity may become socially acceptable, but it is not medically sustainable. We need to take better care of our citizens and start by telling the truth. Obesity is the most destructive disease to Americans. We will be paying in ways not yet foreseen.
The science is clear. The medical observations are in, and obesity is not an acceptable fashion statement. It is a disease state. Like smoking, no amount of obesity is without consequence. All obesity will cause medical damage. The only question need is, how much. Many will have long lives in spite of their obesity, but the facts are clear. They could have had better lives. The sad news is that obesity is not a personal disease, it is a societal disease. We have an epidemic.
The epidemic is that of the whole organism. The organism is humanity. As the maldistribution of food resources leads to obesity all over the world, the entirety of the planet will suffer. There is a need to clear and plant; rare and kill more animals. This race to produce more food is destroying not just our bodies thru obesity but is destroying the biosphere.
As we destroy our planet’s ability to sustain us, we are killing ourselves. How we handle food is not a personal matter, it is a species matter. The capacity of our planet is finite. We live on a rock covered with a small volume of air and water in a giant vacuum. If the potable water runs out, or the breathable air disappears we have no place of refuge.
All of us can directly impact the planet. We can eat less. The science is clear. If we eat organic or non-organic, there is no difference. We need to eat less. There is no superfood. There is food. No matter the nutrient content, excessive quantity has the same result, obesity.
Eat less and leave a healthier planet for our children. Teach our children to eat less and save the planet for our grandchildren.
The encouragement to take a daily multivitamin continues to be strong. However, the accumulation of data suggests strongly that daily supplementation is not necessary. The reasons for fortification of specific foods with specific nutrients starting in the early twentieth century was deliberate and with good reason. The indications for Folic acid, VItamin D, Iron and Iodine were clear and scientifically proven interventions using prevention as treatment for neural tube defects, Ricketts, iron deficiency and goiter. For these diseases the scientific connection was clear and proven. Forward to today and vitamin and micronutrient fortification is touted as a panacea and treatment for all that ails. The evidence for the addition of most supplements is weak at best. Frankly, it is without merit and almost totally baseless.
The extrapolation that since we need small quantities larger quantities will be better is short-sighted and potentially dangerous. The evidence does not support that view. The industrial production and addition of vitamins to every conceivable food item is primarily a marketing tool. It is a waste of money for consumers. If we look at nature we can see a better paradigm to extrapolate from. The concentration of vitamins and micronutrients are small and very large quantities of whole foods would need to be consumed to approach the quantities in many of the marketed items. If there is not a proven deficiency there is no need to add to our foods. The proven need is for small quantities that is more than adequately supplied by a balanced diet. The evidence for benefit beyond that is none existent.
Although, the evidence for potential harm is small we must ask the question. Will super sizing the quantities we ingest be harmful in the long run? Like with the craze for copious quantities of bottled water we have been marketed a hook and we have bitten and are drowning in a sea of misrepresentation. Improve your diet. Make fruits and vegetables the base of all meals and stop wasting your money on bottles of urine coloring.
The new year is here and I still cannot believe it. 2014 came and went at a seemly quicker pace. The truth is that the speed of time as not changed. What has changed is how we experience it. We continue to allowed procrastination to decrease how much we achieve. We over think and neglect to take the actions that would allow us to attain more of our goals. As we second guess our decisions the universe continues forward at the same pace we found it. We are achieving less and the feeling that time is going by faster is just a reflection of our lack of focus on the important things.
For the new year we all should stop thinking and start doing. I am a parent and want to leave a better planet for my children. What are you planing to leave to your children? The discussion about climate change is just one of those issues where we could improve the world for our children. The facts are not in dispute, the climate of earth is changing. I do not dispute that human activity is the cause. If you dispute that I hope we can at least agree that the climate is changing.
With that in mind I would ask you, how do you think climate change will affect your children or grand children? I would suggest that the most likely direct effect will be on the quality and quantity of food and water available. The current estimate of people around the world going hungry is about one billion annually. Concurrent with that is the fact that some of the most productive agricultural areas are in regions whose water supply is dependent on seasonal rain and snow falls. It is already evident from current objective measurable data that these regions are close to breaking point in their water balance. The drought in California, which is the current bread basket of the United States is worrying. The gravity of the danger is not being addressed. But if the level of the water in Lake Mead Nevada is any example we should all be much more concerned.
Our water usage patterns are unsustainable and more forthrightly has led us to a very dangerous place. Agriculture is the primary user of water both for plant and animal production. Animal production is an especially egregious drain on our every decreasing available water sources. The continuing willful deafness of many of our leaders to the coming and already present crisis is criminal. The low intelligence of many of the people on mass media discussing the topic is genocidal in their effect. As we continue to neglect the obvious the problem worsens and the solutions become evermore burdensome. The unfortunate consequence is that the poor all around the world are already experiencing the trauma of food and water insecurity. Even the wealthier among us are being affected. The difference is that most of us can afford the increasing cost of our basic supplies. The larger question needs to be asked, what will happen when the squeeze truly gets to the richer among us?
I am of the scientific persuasion and believe that all the evidence points to mans central impact in leading to climate change. However, I will acquiesce to those who have not attain that clarity. I need only you agree that no matter the cause climate change is occurring and that we need to act to protect our global society.
I would suggest that we start by examining our consumption patterns. Change your lifestyle and change the world. We are all apart of the change that we need.
The current rise in measles cases is a direct result of poor vaccination coverage. The current and pass trend in not vaccinating children is dishearten and threatens public health. How did we get from measles being almost completely eradicated to the highest numbers in decades? I want to suggest that this is emblematic of the poor scientific education of American society. We have allowed the principles and fundamental laws of nature to be undermined in the public discussion of societal problems.
The pervasive acceptance of the creation myth and the almost complete rejection of the pursuit of scientific knowledge is at the root of the resurgence. The lack of understanding and rejection of the scientific method has led to a population that questions everything without the requisite background information. Questions are healthy only when the questioner has a grasp of the context of the questions. We have lost our ability to objectively analyse the facts. The is not because the population is less intelligent that prior generations, but because we have had a 30 year campaign to undermine the foundations of scientific thinking. Scientific facts and precepts are attacked for economic reasons. The concerted and coordinated attacks have led to a wide-spread loss of societal scientific identity. We have lost our understanding of our place in the earth’s ecology. Instead of seeing our species as apart of the larger ecological system we have deluded ourselves into the belief that we are superior.
Many are under the miss-guided idea that creationism is an equal theory to evolution. This as lead to loss of understanding of the biology of life. Without a grasp of the facts of evolution an understanding of biologic life is not to be expected. The current concepts of biologic life are based on evolution and its essential component natural selection. Without a working understanding the general population is susceptible to the quacks that propagate the anti-science garbage that masquerade as alternative “scientific” theories. These vessels of idiocy need to be marginalized. They are the most dangerous threat to our society. Humanity will not be killed by global war or a rock from space. Humanity will be destroyed if we do not accept scientific facts and methods in our approach to the ecological system. Science is the only route to understanding the physical world. We are a small part of a larger ecosystem. We are not essential to this system. If we do not understand that fact we will join the many other dead ends of evolution on our home planet.
Our ability to educate our people will determine over survival as a species. Let us drive the anti-science crowd from the places of power and consign them to the waste-bin of history.
Our children are our most important investment and their well-being is our primary responsibility. How we get them from helpless to confident and self-sufficient is our primary task. I am currently on that journey with my two beautiful daughters and hope I am doing the correct things to create wonderful members of society. These are my guide posts:
1. Create confidence
Give them confidence by allowing them to succeed and fail early. There is nothing like accomplishing physical tasks to give confidence. My girls have never been restricted by age guides. We have allowed them to challenge and master anything they would like to attempt. Many times they fail but it is only in failure that we learn how to succeed.
2. Make learning fun
We strive to make every experience a learning opportunity. I hate structured learning, that is not where most of our learning occurs. Most importantly, answer all their questions (much easier said then done).
3. No baby talk please
When my girls speak others are often amazed at the depth of their vocabulary and general language skills. Those skills are not coincidental. We talk to them in adult language and provide definitions as needed so that they have early exposure and reinforcement of appropriate language.
4. Early introduction to technology and science
My girls are 3 and 4 and both know their way around a computer. They both have been introduced to programming. The 4-year-old gets it and is an intuitive problem solver. The 3-year-old is not there yet but she is learning about computers and always want to program. They love seeing the effects of their work. They remind me daily that they need to program. We are on code.org most days and I am the one limiting their time.
5. Respect others and the planet
Letting them see us showing respect to others and nature gives them a sense of their place in the universe. We are here to take care of the planet which is not limited to our fellow primates.
Our child are willing and able to learn and accomplish so much more that we give them credit for. We need to unleash them. In the rapidly changing world we live in, the only skill that will guarantee success is adaptability. Exposing our children to as many learning opportunities as we can will prepare them well for the challenges ahead.
There is a curious question being asked by many. I am not sure what is the genesis of this oddity, but it presents a dangerous falsehood that needs a vigorous rebuttal. So insidious and capricious is that question that even national media outlets have thought it important to comment. My difficulty with the discussion is in the lack of depth or nuance. The question in various shades of gray suggests by the tone of the questioning that a college education is not a good deal. Please read that last sentence again.
The very suggestion is quite offensive to me. My grandparents, I am sure, are all turning and cursing in their graves. I have inherited a non-negotiable emphasis on the importance of a well-rounded education. The current discussions emphasis on cost is shortsighted and is particularly destructive to the poor. Many factors have gotten us to this question and a full and complete discussion is needed.
I would hope that the need for a good education beyond the bare skills to compete for a job would be evident. Alas, I have given too much credit to the opinion makers, they mostly don’t get it. For this country to remain a functioning democracy the masses must not only be capable of holding a job but must be able to defend the pillars of our freedoms. The suggestion that all citizens don’t deserve a full and complete education is dangerous both economically and politically. The examination of cost is worthwhile and needed, but the value equation is not being discussed in an honest manner.
A college degree is currently the best route to a great education, but how do we get there? The disconnect starts at the beginning, with the lack of focus on the skills needed to create individuals recognize that life long learning is needed to navigate the currently environment. Education starts long before your child can read or write. It begins with parents answering all the annoying questions toddlers present. As a father of a 2 year-old and a 4 year-old I have experienced the never-ending questions and even the embarrassing public questions. However, I am committed to accurate answers. Answering, all those questions builds knowledge and confidence, and encourages curiosity. The latter is what parents must cultivate. Curiosity about the world is what drives true education.The power of curiosity kept me out of trouble and I hope it will do the same for my girls.
How does this have anything to do with college or the utility of a college education? This is how I see it. Curiosity drives a hunger for knowledge, which includes a focus on value. A key piece of knowledge that we can pass to our children is that it is best to complete a great major at an underrated college than a poor major at the best college. Following that one rule will provide a greater value than anything else. What is a great major? Since I am in the sciences I would suggest Math and Science and the associated applied fields. Yes we all cannot be engineers, but making the correct choice is vital to the cost/value equation of a college degree.
Start early and be curious. Most of all start early. Figuring out your college major in college is too late. This is where parental guidance is important. This is also where being born to educated high earning parents makes a difference. The typical guidance for the children of the well-educated is quite different. It has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. Parents all want their children to succeed, but some know what it takes while some don’t. This suggestion that a college education cannot be a good valve has the most negative impact on the poor. A choice to focus on other avenues to financial success versus making the hard choices that will provide a great education to our children will be what keeps us poor.
As parents we need to start taking the education of our children more seriously and endeavoring to guide them into successful decision-making is key. College is still the best deal to a lifetime of improved options. Start early. Be curious. Succeed.
As humans we have a false sense of ourselves. We believe that we as individuals are important. We no longer believe that our planet is the center of the universe, but that science has not informed our view of the individual. Our religious belief that we are the central character in our destiny is elegant, yet simple and without merit. This view has carried over into our view that individual pursuits are important to the state of the world. More importantly, many believe that the individual is more important than the group.
The communists took the view that the individual was not as significant as the group, while the capitalists considered the person to be the center of the universe. Both ideas have some truth, but neither is complete. The truth is somewhere in the middle. An elegant and informative way to see our place in the biosphere is to look at natural occurrences like the current cicada invasion.
The current brood of cicada will descend on the east coast any moment. The sound will be loud and unmistakable. Most of us will hear a loud uncoordinated noise. The truth is that what we hear is generated by 3 different species singing their individual song. The chorus will appear to be homogeneous, but on close inspection it is not. When an individual from each specie is recorded the sound is nothing like that heard from the group. The elegance of the orchestra is lost on us because we see the world not as a group organism but as individuals trying to survive. Each individual sings a precise song that is essential to the mating process. The regeneration of the genome is each individuals only job. If each individual gets it correct the group will survive. If a specific individual does not perform the group will still survive. The individuals will die, but the group survives.
Without the group the individual remains insignificant and without hope. The me card is not just selfish, it is problematic for the survival of the human specie.
What will you do for us today?
The safety and security of my country is in jeopardy. She is not under threat from the outside. The threat unfortunately is domestic. The growing anti science crowd, the growing numbers of ill-informed and the poor quality of leadership. Leaders of the political class are calling for defunding of everything. The private sector wants results without putting any capital at risk. The shortsightedness of cuts to science, technology and education is enough to make me cry. The intellectual dishonesty of defunding the tools of education and then crying that the system does not work is treasonous.
American will remain secure only if all her children have access to great education. All of her children can learn if we are willing to give them the chance to prove themselves. More guns will not secure us, great education for all will.
Would you neglect the education of your child? So, why are we neglecting the education of the most vulnerable among us? The education of our children is completed by them having pairs to challenge them. Europe is yesterdays competition. The sleeping giants have awoken and are working hard on catching up. We are not stationary, but the competition is accelerating while we are decelerating. We need to wake up and invest the time and money needed to ensure that America remains the creative center of the world.
Our challenge is to see that our current system is no longer working. It may work for you, but if your child can only compete with the lesser educational attainment of her local competition she will not be able to survive the coming onslaught. We must make sure all our children are ready for the global competition. The giants of Asia have awoken, South American has awoken and Africa is stretching from a long night. Competition is here to stay. Will American be ready?
I am confident in the resilience of American society, but it is my responsibility to prepare my children for plan B.
All of us have our quirks. The question is, can the people around you live with them. On most days I think the people around me can survive. Mine is my drive for efficiency. I once was told that the fastest way to get a task done is to do it the right way the first time. If you work with me you have heard that before and you know that my way is the only correct way. Thanks for the indulgence. What motivates me is accomplishing a task in as few steps as possible. In health care that can be a challenge.
In the world of rising cost and decreasing reimbursement the imperative in healthcare is keeping cost to a minimum. My take is that patient safety is the first goal followed closely by efficiency. Some may wonder about that combination but I posit that they are one and the same. If your question is how so, let me expand by looking at one of the most frequent complaints in healthcare. Timeliness. What is timeliness and do you respect it?
The most offensive thing to me is inefficiency. Inefficient use of time is the highest form of disrespect. The fundamental question is do you respect others. As importantly, do you respect your reputation. You first have to show respect for yourself before you can respect others. Respect motivates and challenges. It creates internal expectations that demand attention. The expectation that you must be the best at each task demands attention to the details of the task. Attention to the small details of the task shows others your commitment to success and will reinforce your reputation for succeeding at your goals. We all want the successful and self motivated on our team. Respect for one’s reputation means always doing ones best, including being on time. Respect for time, I posit carries over into ones preparation for treating patients and will result in better care being delivered.
Unfortunately many in our society have come to equate the cost of their time to value. Value is not defined by cost equations, but by the totality of benefit provided to others. Your time is not more valuable than that of others. As a physician I try to respect my patient’s time. However that attribute is not universally acknowledged and that leads to delivery of less than optimal care. The lack of preparation for our patients is reflected in lack of respect for the time of patients and results in us going for the easy fixes instead of the optimal. The easy fix is destroying the reputation of the Medical Profession. “ObamaCare” and Government regulation is just the latest scapegoat for the total lack of respect that physicians have for time and timeliness and by extension our patients. This directly affects our reputations, but too many don’t see the connection. Patients have become a number not because of the business of medicine but because physicians have not shown enough respect for our patient’s time. Too many physicians see patients as a captive audience. Even if our patients do not have many options we should still treat them with the respect they deserve. All of natures children deserve respect and humans no less than our cats or dogs. If we do not reverse this trend, one day we will wake up and find that we are not the only ones taking care of patients. Truth be told that reality is already here. Welcome to the evolving world order.
Matt was taking too long to get back to us. “Matt!” No answer. I told the others to remain by the Trans while I find him. I pulled and charged my sidearm. As I squeezed by the Trans it came into view. A yellowish light in the distance. I’d never seen that before but recognized it from the old VR movies. It was the ID light of a mark 3 synth. The light was pointed directly at me, there was nowhere to hide. I froze. My head was spinning, I couldn’t think or stand or talk. I just collapsed, but didn’t make it to the ground. Matt caught me. “Matt, what is going on?” “That’s Leo with the light.” “As in Light Enabled Ordinance?” “Yes.” “What!” “All your questions will be answered later. We need to get out of here.” “What about the others.” “They will be fine.” “I called Detrans and they will be here in a few minutes. Lets go.” “I’m trusting you on this Matt.”
He helped me up and we walked toward the yellow-light and hopped into a shaft off the main tubeway. We crawled for about 60 meters and suddenly it was as bright as if we were above ground. Matt climbed down the ladder and I followed. I was surprised at how large Leo was and that he fit into the shaft. As my eyes adjusted I noticed the dimensions. It was huge. Matt seemed as surprised as I was and I was relieved.
Suddenly the room began to fill and my pulse began to rise with the increase in numbers. “Welcome Matt, it’s a pleasure to finally meet. Kelly, welcome. My name is Spice and I have waited 100 years for this day. Welcome to Latte.” As he said 100 years, there was a tightness in my chest. I knew what this was and my day just went to earth. I just then noticed that my sidearm was gone and that Matt didn’t have one either. 100 years ago I was born and at 38 my DNA time capsule was activated. I was in the lab, the room went dark and I woke up in the med lounge. They told me that I had to be sedated and that I had been there for the last 2 hours just moaning. I meet Matt 2 weeks after my 38th year and we have been friends since. He helped me with my nightmares and I finally was able to remember what happened during my blackout.
Matt’s coding skills were vital in helping me re-assemble my memories. He assembled the code that unlocked the DNA time capsule. It was some clever code. It allowed me to use my eyes to project my thoughts. We played the message at my place and he made a ultra-high definition VR copy. It all started to come back in a rush. I could see the message. Dad was saying,”Kelly we love you and wish for you the best in life and hope to be there for your big day.” I felt as if I couldn’t control myself. I reached for Matt and he held my hand. “Matt what is going on.” “You’ll figure it out. You always do.” Matt spoke for me again. “Mr Spice, could we take this private and bring Kelly up to date?” “Lets do that.” I held onto Matt tightly and followed him closely.”
As we entered the room there was Leo. It/He/She was much smaller that I thought. Them I remembered the stories that LEO’s where the first synths made completely of morphic nanotubes making them able to reshape themselves as the situation needed. The technology was abandoned 80 years or so ago because of emerging sentience.