Posted on Tuesday, 1st December 2009 by

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Well, I don’t know about you folks but this is been one incredible summer and fall for me. On a personal note I finally got my man cave finished and I have been working diligently over the last several months helping my daughter and her husband move into their new home on Long Island. I think I’ve finally completed my list of “dad things.” With all the travel back and forth to Long Island it is only in the last couple of weeks that I actually had the time to find the top of my desk again and get busy writing The Forum. 

Professionally I have, as I’m sure you have, been monitoring the debates over health care reform. The intensity and negativity of the rhetoric on this issue has been nothing shy of overwhelming. This will clearly be one of the most significant domestic challenges that we will face in our immediate future. Just recently, Government announced that the federal health insurance premiums will rise by another 8.8% for calendar year 2010. Especially for those of us living on a fixed income, like CSRS, who will not get a COLA this year, that’s a significant bite. Hopefully, our elected officials will stop their partisan bickering and resolve this challenge in a way that addresses the interests of all parties adequately. One thing is certain; this will be an interesting debate. 

There’s an old story about a man, let’s call him John Smith, who was going to take a bus trip to visit his family in South Carolina. He went into the bus station and purchased his ticket. While waiting for the bus John was walking around the station and noticed a scale that promised to tell him not only his weight, but also identify other personal information. Curious, he stepped onto the scale, and dropped in his quarter. After several moments of whirring and clanging, the scale produced a printout, which stated, “Your name is John Smith. You are 206 lbs., which is 26 lbs overweight. You are waiting for the bus to South Carolina to visit your family. Have a nice day.” 

John was dumbfounded by the accuracy of the scale and couldn’t believe it possible. After several minutes he figured it had to be some kind of trick and decided to give it another try. So, back onto the scale he went and in went another quarter. Once again, more clanging and whirring and out came another printout which said, “Your name is still John Smith. You are still 206 lbs., which is still 26 lbs overweight. You are still waiting for the bus to South Carolina to visit your family. Have a nice day.”  

Now John was beside himself and just couldn’t believe the scale could know these things. As he wondered how the scale knew these details of his life, John noticed a novelty shop across the street from the bus station. He visited the novelty shop and purchased a wig, a stick-on mustache, a pair of toy horn-rimmed glasses and a cap. Armed with his new “identity” and determined to fool the all-knowing scale, he once again entered the bus station and stepped onto the scale. He deposited his quarter and after the whirring and clanging stopped, the scale once again produced a printout which said, “Your name is STILL John Smith. You are STILL 206 lbs., which is STILL 26 lbs overweight. You are STILL planning to visit your family. However, while you were wasting your time in the novelty shop, you missed your bus to South Carolina. Have a nice day.” 

While the point of this little story may seem to have much to do with health and wellness, it’s also not as subtle as you may think. Consider the following: 

  • The US spends more than any other industrialized nation on health care, yet we only rank 38th in the quality of our overall health.
  • Annually we spend $147 BILLION on the health cares costs related to obesity – double that of 10 years ago.
  • By 2018, our projected spending for obesity costs will rise to a whopping $344 BILLION. That number will represent a full 25% of our total health services spending. It is projected that 50% of our population will be at least 30 pounds overweight by that time.
  • The Long Island Press for October 1 – October 7, 2009 reported, in an article titled “A Growing Problem,” that …,since 1980 the number of American children who are obese more than doubled for ages 2 to 5, almost tripled for ages 6 – 11, and more than tripled for ages 12 – 19. Today, about one out of three children and teenagers in the U.S. is overweight or obese.”
  • Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, a pediatrician specializing in treating childhood obesity, stated, “Doctors have been finding cases of what used to be ‘adult’ diseases [such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and conditions including high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol] in overweight teenagers and children as young as age 6”
  • Eric Finkelstein, Ph.D., at the National Conference on Childhood Obesity in June stated, “The average U.S. taxpayer pays $175 per year to finance obesity.” Can you say Super Size that?
  • In addition to heart disease and cancer, the correct usage of properly prescribed prescription medications has now become one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S.
  • Dr. Bruce Miller from Texas says, “One of the primary activities of physicians today is to keep track of the ways people have found to kill themselves.” 

Clearly, these data indicate that when it comes to wellness we, as a society, have missed the bus.

It may seem that these statistics focus on our growing waistlines; however, obesity is directly related to and exacerbates numerous other serious problems such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and related cardio-vascular conditions, diabetes, renal failure, etc. Our trips to that novelty store provide us with disguises like, “I’m not obese, I’m simply a ‘plus’ size,” or “I like myself this way,” etc. However, when we put in our quarter and wait for the whirring and clanging to stop, our note will continue to read, “You are STILL XXX pounds overweight.” 

In the coming months I will provide you with numerous suggestions on how to maintain, or regain, control of your own personal wellness starting with some simple advice for shrinking your waistline. In the meantime, here are a few simple techniques to help you and your families stay healthy for the holiday season:

  • Eat 5 fruits and vegetables per day
  • Get one hour of physical activity per day (does not need to be consecutive)
  • Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Eat breakfast daily (Shaklee’s Cinch is a great choice!)
  • Switch to low-fat dairy products
  • Regularly eat family meals together
  • Limit fast food, take out, and eating out
  • Prepare foods at home, as a family
  • Eat a high fiber diet
  • Be sure to take your supplementation to support your immune health. Your favorite version of Vitalizer along with NutriFeronâ provides a solid foundation for immune function. For children ages 12 and younger choose Incredivitesä; and for infants and toddlers age 6 months to 4 years, use ShakleeBabyä Multivitamin & Multimineral Powder.

 Until next time, “ALL ABOARD!”

 Yours in Good Health,


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