Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We Shouda Seen This...

On balance, we humans have a mixed record on spotting the obvious. Many if not most of you can usually pick it out of a "police"-style lineup. Then there are people like me. You could have The Obvious in a room by itself, put sparklers in each of its mitts, rent those huge spotlights they use at movie openings, and I wouldn't have a clue! (My friends who are willing to venture an opinion on the subject believe it's a lack of "common sense". If you ask me, "common sense" is pretty damn uncommon these days. But I digress...)

Still, there are cases when even I get it on the first, or at worst the second, try. Take this observation on the link between neighborhood styles and diabetes worked out by a team of US researchers and published this week. Makes sense: I mean, fresh fruits and vegetables, incentives for regular walking [public transportation, stores and other amenities within walking distance], plenty of fresh air and parkland to enjoy it in; increase the potential for healthy lifestyle choices, and you increase the likelihood that people will behave in a more healthy manner. Of course, I think the researchers are a bit naive when they assume that rebuilding developed areas of the US to reflect their findings is going to happen. Yes, we are in a diabetes epidemic [here and in most of the developed world]. Yes, it's likely [but don't quote me on this] that retooling our cities and towns for better health would reduce health care costs [not only for diabetes, but for heart disease, high blood pressure, and a whole list of illnesses] by a greater amount than the cost of renovation. I can't speak for other countries, but the idea of governmental "control" of our lives [even if the "control" is limited to making healthy lifestyle choices easier] usually doesn't sit well with Americans [Prohibition is the classic story of Government paternalism gone bad; there are others, including "sin taxes" (taxes on alcohol and tobacco), and mandates/recommendations (reducing speed limits to keep Federal road money, Government - recommended vaccines, etc)].

Yeah, propaganda is always a possibility to encourage more healthy behavior [that said, I think the poster on the right had more influence than the one on the left]. But propaganda's track record has been spotty at best in America; probably of limited use. So what's a diabetic
to do? Take responsibility, for one thing. Do all the little, sometimes annoying, things that help improve your health. Eat a healthy diet. Exercise. Keep up on checking your blood sugars, skin, feet. And walk a little more. If we're depending on the government to solve our problems, we're in a lot worse trouble than we think. At least that's what seems obvious to me.
-Mike Riley


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