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Inflammation and physical education are good for you

No pain no gain?  Preliminary research implies that we may have been badly mistaken in our fight to reduce inflammation with instant pain-relief gratification, in the form of antiinflammatories such as NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Advil, etc) and corticosteroids (e.g. dexamethasone & prednisone).  Not surprisingly, this research finds that there is actually an essential biological reason for inflammation–including the body marshaling white blood cells to jumpstart our natural healing process.  So, ironically, by aggressively fighting inflammation artificially, we may be reducing white blood cells and limiting healing: gaining short-term pain relief at the cost of long-term pain…and lifelong dependence on painkillers. How does that relate to school health & wellness? Let me make an analogy: By maximizing seat-time to boost reading and math test scores short-term, we have not only failed to increase test scores, but we have sacrificed our children’s long-term health. By no longer even try
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Think your teen won’t get diabetes? Think again…

What would you do, if your teenage child or grandchild had prediabetes–with a strong chance of developing diabetes within the next 10 years?  Not likely, you think–but you are wrong.  According to a brand new JAMA Pediatrics study , there is a greater than 1 in 4 chance that your teen has prediabetes .  This is up even more from a recent study showing 1 in 5 at risk–and more than twice as high as 20 years ago.   What really took my breath away is that 1 in 4 white teens and 1 in 4 teens from higher-income families and 1 in 4 normal weight teens have prediabetes! People have been assuming that those kids are unlikely to develop Type 2 diabetes early in life...  Well, you can toss that stereotype out the window now.   If your teen has been inactive and had poor nutrition for years, you should perhaps consider checking their blood sugar level – and take action now to get them moving and eating & drinking healthier . Since research shows that kids are unlikely to change thei

Post Modern Healthcare’s Leadership Symposium: From Frustrations with Adult Health to Childhood Solutions

During the main panel discussion at highly influential Modern Healthcare magazine’s Leadership Symposium recently, prominent industry CEOs shared their frustrations on the need for change in health care but the lack of progress.  Of all the comments made in a poll of attendees, Modern Healthcare highlighted one by Erin Hammond, a senior value-based programs professional at Humana [ emphasis added by me]:  “Medicare Advantage and Medicare should start for high-risk communities the first day of preschool .  That way the government and healthcare orgs have an entire lifetime to shape healthy habits that will impact the high cost of the elderly population.  Between that and a sugar tax and increasing the quality of food we make available to our population...we would not only see the quality and healthy days of our citizens enhance as they get older, but much lower medical costs .”   Even if you don’t believe in a single cradle-to-grave health plan for all or taxes on unhealthy ingredie

A Mirage of Child Health Improvement in Arizona

Fasten your statistical seatbelts & prepare for a "wonky" longer-than-normal post: New National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) data claim an improvement in child obesity in Arizona over the last five years--to the extent that AZ supposedly now has the 2nd lowest child obesity for 10-17 year olds in the USA !?  Per the NSCH-based rankings, this implies that Arizona has less child obesity & much better trends than even perennial health leaders Colorado or Utah--in spite of those states having much less poverty & much lower adult obesity than Arizona.  Few states except perhaps North Dakota(!?) & Nebraska(!?) show as much of a decline over the last five years (2016-2020) among children, according to these NSCH data. These parent-self-reported statistics contradict the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data , which are self-reported by high school students themselves--and which do not show an improvement in teen obesity in Arizona (or in Nebraska or North D

Both/And: Personal & School & Social Responsibility for Health

Many people are promoting a false dichotomy for who/what to “blame” for decades of pervasive inactivity & unhealthy nutrition--the key preventable factors which have led to the majority of adults developing chronic disease. Some believe that people with preventable chronic diseases made a series of unhealthy choices for decades, for which they need to accept personal responsibility for the consequences. On the other side, a growing number of policymakers focus on the “social determinants of health.”  In other words, there are many things beyond your control, which impact what you eat & drink and how active you are.  This includes factors such as your family, neighborhood, school, employer, transportation, public safety, housing, community layout, etc. etc.  It’s those external social factors which determine your health destiny.   Actually, the personal and social are inextricably connected--not opposite ends of the spectrum.  Let’s consider the role of schools. Schools can help

America the Beautiful...The Sequel

The rarely sung second verse of America The Beautiful contains these words:        America!  America!        God mend thine every flaw,        Confirm thy soul in self-control,        Thy liberty in law! At a time when criticisms of US history are condemned as un-American, it’s worth listening to this.   As we noted in a previous blog post, the Founding Fathers expected a number of flaws in our country--and created a constitutional process to address them.  Often, this process requires prolonged citizen pressure to get political leaders to address a major neglected issue, such as gender inequality, voting issues or racism...or a multidecade child health epidemic and a crushingly expensive health system--both fueled by government mismanagement.   Unfortunately, our advocacy experience so far reinforces this.  Why are political leaders so resistant to change?  Sure, they've got a lot on their plate. But how about prioritizing the big issues that matter deeply to the public? Powerfu

Are Junk Food Sellers Accountable for Harming Our Health?

Dutch citizens recently won what could be a game-changing legal verdict against the Shell Oil Company.  Shell is being held accountable for its role in a range of problems created by global climate change.   Going from the gas pump into the convenience store:  are those making & selling unhealthy food & beverages liable for the growing pandemic of diabetes & heart disease--caused to a major extent by unhealthy nutrition?   Given the past success of tobacco, vaping and opioid litigation in the USA, it seems that companies which profit from popular products that harm people may not get a free ride forever.   Of course, many argue that individual consumers are choosing to eat & drink unhealthy stuff.  If they want to do that, let them--and don’t blame the companies who supply them.  The problem is: those individuals often do not have the money to pay for their lifelong chronic diseases.  So those with healthy lifestyles end up with much of the tab—with their taxes & ev