Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama's Healthcare Reform: We Need Less Health Care, More Health

Do we need better health care in America, or do we actually need better health? Let's tell the truth. The elephant in the room for all discussions of healthcare reform is how unhealthy Americans are. There, I said it. Yes, the system needs a make-over, but our bodies need one even more. The health care system will be so overloaded and burdened in the next 20 years if we don't all start "owning" our own health, fitness and wellness.

Think of this recent flu scare. President Obama was right when he asked us to wash our hands, cover our sneezes and coughs, make an effort to stay home if we were sick or keep our kids home if they were sick. We were all willing to take personal responsibility for our wellness in this case. The flu epidemic was averted (so far). We can't quite know if these personal initiatives made all the difference, but it was good to be reminded that WE CAN each make a difference, no matter how small.

But we are going to have a heck of a time dodging another epidemic -- the obesity epidemic -- until each of us "owns" the problem. Our wellness is at high risk. Nothing is more serious now, than each of us taking simple precautions in this looming epidemic. It all comes down to changes in lifestyle (major changes for some) which are easy to spell out: EAT LESS, MOVE MORE.

Why is this advice so simple to hear, but so difficult to follow? That could take another 3000 words to discuss in detail, but let me just say the American food industry, the American lifestyle, especially the American suburbs designed around driving ... yes, as if the auto industry hasn't taken enough of a beating lately, the American car industry too, is to blame for our obesity epidemic, all these factors contribute to our sorry state of poor health. Your life has to change fundamentally. It's time to realize, "going green" can mean getting out there WALKING on the green grass and EATING more green than red meat.

If we can prevent the rising rates of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and other preventable lifestyle diseases in America, as well as reform health care systems, we have a fighting chance. Any efforts to simply reform healthcare without an eye on wellness, are a waste of time.