THE EPIDEMIC OF PRE-DIABETES, INEFFECTIVE HEALTH CAMPAIGNS, AND WHY I TRY TO TAKE SUCH GOOD CARE OF MYSELFRead Now
WHY GOVERNMENT HEALTH CAMPAIGNS DON'T WORK IS PART OF WHY I TRY TO TAKE SUCH GOOD CARE OF MYSELF
Although the study we are about to discuss supplies no new information (HERE), it helps us to understand just how big the wave of PRE-DIABETES (Insulin Resistance) sweeping across our nation like sugar-coated tsunami really is. Take, for instance, sunny California.
California, like Florida, is an important state as far as non-grain related agriculture is concerned. This means that if you live in California, you probably have better year-round access to FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES than the rest of us. On top of that, because of the warm climate, Californians are not cooped up indoors for months at a time, waiting for the big thaw to occur. This means that at least in theory, Californians should be both eating better and more active than the rest of us. Despite the potential advantages that these two points provide Californians, a brand new study from UCLA tells us it's not working out so well.
"In California, more than 13 million adults (46 percent of all adults) are estimated to have prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes. An additional 2.5 million adults have diagnosed diabetes. Altogether, 15.5 million adults (55 percent of all California adults) have prediabetes or diabetes."
This is crazy folks. In the lowest county in the state (Lake County), over one in four adults had Prediabetes. Once you understand that virtually all health problems --- including most that people enjoy blaming on BAD GENETICS --- are arguably and intimately linked to BLOOD SUGAR issues, you can begin to see how big and ugly this problem really is. This can be true even though one's blood tests are "normal". The UCLA Newsroom (Majority of California Adults have Prediabetes or Diabetes) spells it out for us. Remember that one of the catchwords for this decade is "sustainability". This next quote provides some insight into just how unsustainable our current healthcare trajectory really is.
"This is the clearest indication to date that the diabetes epidemic is out of control and getting worse..... [Thanks to] a preponderance of soda and junk food marketing, and urban neighborhoods lacking safe places to play, we have created a world where diabetes is the natural consequence. If there is any hope to keep health insurance costs from skyrocketing, health care providers from being overwhelmed and millions of Californians from suffering needlessly from amputations, blindness and kidney failure, the state of California must launch a major campaign to turn around the epidemic of type 2 diabetes."
Campaigns. They're the easiest way to approach problems like this. It's why everyone looks to throw money at the problem by creating yet another Public Health Campaign (Don't Smoke, Don't Drink, Don't do Drugs, GET YOUR ANNUAL PHYSICAL, GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM, GET YOUR COLONOSCOPY, DON'T EAT EGGS OR RED MEAT, etc, etc, etc). This begs the question of how effective PSA's and 'Health Campaigns' really are in relationship to the billions of dollars being spent on them each year?
According to any number of sources (almost all being GOVERNMENT or government-related), Health Campaigns are incredibly effective. They help people stop the bad habits that are destroying them, or show them how early diagnosis creates the best pathway to health (WHICH IS, UNFORTUNATELY, A HUGE MISNOMER). We know, however, from the miserable failure known as the 'War on Drugs' that what works in theory and what works in reality, are often as distant from each other as medical practice is from medical research (HERE).
In similar fashion to the way that industry-driven anti-tobacco and anti-drinking campaigns for children have actually worked in reverse (probably because there is a vested interest by these industries in seeing kids drink and smoke --- if they don't start young, research says they are much less likely to ever start), why should we believe that other types of 'Health Campaigns' will fare any better? Face it; BIG PHARMA is big business. And don't kid yourself; even though individual doctors typically want to see a healthier population, drug companies and the healthcare industry at large do not. Let's look at some of the evidence to show that "Campaigns" are failing; or at the very least, not living up to expectations.
A brand new study published in last month's issue of the British Medical Journal (The Impact of Communicating Genetic Risks of Disease on Risk-Reducing Health Behavior: Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis) sums up the magnitude of this problem in a couple of cherry-picked paragraphs.
"Searching for gene variants associated with risks of common complex conditions, including diabetes and various cancers, continues to receive considerable attention. Although the main target of such research is more effective treatments, more precise prediction of disease has also been anticipated. Our results are consistent with the third, suggesting that high expectations of the potency of such communications to change behavior are unfounded. This is consistent with the results of a recent cohort study reporting no impact on diet or physical activity of direct-to-consumer genome-wide testing. It is also in accord with the results of a Cochrane review in which the authors concluded that the current evidence does not support the hypothesis that biomedical risk assessment increases smoking cessation.
The theoretically oriented literature on behavior change also highlights the typically small effect of risk communication on behavior. The one large and well conducted trial included in this review that assessed the impact of DNA risk communication on colorectal screening found no effect on uptake. The available evidence does not provide support for the expectations raised by researchers and proponents of personalized medicine as well as direct-to-consumer testing companies that the receipt of results from DNA based tests for gene variants that confer increased risk of common complex diseases motivates behavior change."
What does this mean in English? It means that even those who have spent the money from out of their own pockets to undergo genetic testing in order to make themselves aware of their predisposition toward certain specific health problems, aren't doing jack diddly about it. If personalized data is not enough to motivate people to modify their behavior, do you really think that impersonal Campaigns such as "IF YOU MUST DRINK SODA, MAKE IT DIET" are going to work any better? Of course not!
Even though some of these "Health Campaigns" help on some small level, statistics clearly reveal that we are FATTER, SICKER, and struggle with more CHRONIC PAIN, DEPRESSION, and ADDICTION than any generation in history --- even though we are living longer (HERE). This despite the fact that we both spend more money on healthcare and consume more drugs than any other society since the beginning of recorded history (approximately 75% of the world's medications according to the CDC --- HERE). Sicker, but living longer --- it's a drug company's wet dream. And that does not even begin to touch on the ways that Health Campaign statistics are fudged and finagled.
As I noted earlier, the people and organizations who squawk the loudest about the huge benefits of Health Campaigns are almost always the people who, in the words of Steve Miller's famous song, "make their living off other people's taxes." These are governmental organizations or universities who receive tax monies for the express purpose of studying, creating, and modifying said Campaigns. And as the old saying goes, figures never lie, but liars figure.
Once you understand the numerous ways you are being bamboozled with "EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE" it will come as no surprise that the "New Math" used to calculate the effectiveness of the Health Campaigns you are constantly being blitzed with, is murky at best. Not sure what I'm talking about? Take a look at a statement made on Mental Health dot com (When Is A Difference Between Two Groups Significant?). By the way, I have seen this number as low as 7%.
"In mental health, the convention is that a 12% improvement or greater represents a clinically significant difference. This 12% is selected because antidepressant medications are, on average, 12% better than placebo in the treatment of moderate depression."
What is our national epidemic of unbridled Obesity and other INFLAMMATORY DISEASES doing to us other than destroying our health? For one, it's helping dig us into a financial hole we will never be able to climb out of. Tack on exploding healthcare costs to our already out of control public and private indebtedness, and we can see a crisis looming on the horizon like an unholy mirage (HERE). I'm not talking about an apocalyptic scenario that looks like something out of THOSE BOOKS by 90 year old evangelical mouthpiece, Tim LaHaye. Nor am I suggesting that we try taking over the government Oregon-style. I am simply reminding people that taking care of a chronic health crisis of this magnitude is --- as the good doctor implied earlier --- unsustainable, and could easily prove to be the straw that financially speaking, breaks the camel's back.
We have have outstripped our collective ability to pay for the newest and latest medical technology. CANCER is a great example. It has recently become America's number one killer at a cost of well over one hundred billion dollars a year. Yet when we GET DOWN TO BRASS TACKS, we see that things aren't much better than they were forty years ago. The thing is folks, we don't need more technology. Technology might save your life, but it can't make you healthy. Sure; it promises you health. But when you understand the difference between being alive and being healthy, you can see how hollow this promise really is.
What does this mean for Americans who are truly interested in their health? It means you'll have to step outside the box. It means not trusting THE FDA. It means having your babies in a more natural manner (HERE) and nursing them --- or possibly nursing them longer (HERE). It means staying away from chemicals (HERE), avoiding antibiotics and other drugs as though our lives depend on it (HERE), growing a garden (HERE), eating healthy foods (HERE), understanding Gut Health (HERE) and Inflammation (HERE), and on and on and on.
Simplification is the solution. Not technology. Not that medical technology is somehow bad (although more often than we care to admit IT IS), but it is taking our focus away from the real problem at hand --- ourselves and our COLLECTIVE ADDICTION TO HIGHLY PALATABLE FOOD. Not to mention our sedentary lifestyles. The cold-hard truth is, you can't fix inflammatory problems like Type II Diabetes with drugs (HERE). Most of what we struggle with health-wise on a day-to-day basis is self-inflicted, and the only way out is to totally revamp our lifestyles --- LIKE THIS PERSON DID.
SO DOC, WHAT DO YOU DO TO TAKE
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).