Talking with the doctor

imgresAn estimated 70 percent of Americans are taking at least one prescription medication, so it is good news, maybe, that they seem to talk to doctors relatively often.As health experts increasingly focus on the medical benefits of a healthy lifestyle and preventative healthcare, Americans say their doctor does commonly discuss the benefits of healthy habits with them- so says Gallup:

“Specifically, 71% say their doctor usually discusses the benefits of engaging in regular physical exercise and 66% the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Fewer, 50%, say their doctor usually discusses the benefits of not smoking, although that number jumps to 79% among smokers.These data are from Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 10-14.Physicians are more likely to discuss regular exercise and eating a healthy diet — positive behaviors related to maintaining a healthy weight — with Americans than not smoking. This may reflect the prevalence of these issues in the U.S.: while 19% of Americans in Gallup’s July Consumption Survey say they currently smoke, 45% say they are overweight.

“Half of Americans overall say their doctor usually speaks with them about the benefits of not smoking, but that percentage soars among smokers (79%), who are significantly more likely than nonsmokers (43%) and former smokers (45%) to say their doctor usually discusses this. It is certainly logical that physicians would intensify their efforts to speak about not smoking with current smokers, compared with nonsmokers and former smokers — especially considering the time constraints during doctor’s appointments. However, increasing the frequency of these discussions with nonsmokers could prevent more nonsmokers from ever starting and more former smokers from returning to old habits. Smokers are no more likely than nonsmokers and former smokers to report that their doctor discusses exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, reinforcing that doctors tend to tailor their message when it comes to smokers.”


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The new politics of obesity

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie acknowledged on Monday that he recently underwent lap band surgery to help him lose weight, reports  images-1“The governor says personal health motivated his decision, but his heft—Christie reportedly topped 300 pounds—could also complicate a 2016 presidential bid. William Howard Taft was at least as obese as Christie. Did his doctors tell him to lose weight?

“Yes. Doctors at the turn of the 20th century advised patients to carry a 20- to 50-pound reserve in case of prolonged illness, a reasonably sound recommendation at a time when pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhea each killed more Americans than heart disease or diabetes. Extreme obesity, however, has long been recognized as a problem. Eighteenth-century medical journals associated obesity with drowsiness, gout, and difficulty breathing. Taft, who weighed as much as 340 pounds during his presidency, suffered from all three. Taft publicly acknowledged his weight problem—it was probably difficult to ignore after the president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called on him to give up horseback riding—noting that “too much flesh is bad for any man.” (“Extra flesh” was the common euphemism for obesity at the time.) Taft implied that his ideal weight was 270 pounds, though, which indicates how much standards for body weight have changed. Even at that weight, a man of Taft’s height would today be considered severely obese according to hisbody mass index. Continue reading “The new politics of obesity”