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It’s Come To This for Many of Our Teens: Radical Surgery and/or a Lifetime of Pharmaceuticals

The American Academy of Pediatrics just came out in favor of powerful prescription drugs (which must be taken lifelong to avoid weight regain & chronic disease) for adolescents--and potentially for pre-teens (ages 8-11)--with moderate to severe obesity. Bari atric surgery (permanently reengineering kids’ gastrointestinal systems) should also be considered for adolescents with severe obesity .  (The Academy also recommends "nutrition support, physical activity, and behavioral therapy"--but as with so many other areas of US chronic disease management, we can see where default treatments are headed: drugs & surgical procedures.) Such radical treatment recommendations created the usual (and temporary and ineffectual) tsunami of news & social media shock and indignation. The decades-long performative reaction to the increasingly bad news on dangerous levels of early obesity–and now 1 in 3 teens with prediabetes, across ethnicities & income levels–is itself sicken
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Is it a “Miracle Drug”?...if it Costs a Fortune and Creates Lifelong Dependency...&...Saggy Faces!?

[It’s been a while since our last blog post.  A lot has happened since– including some “miracles” ! So we’re going to do two posts in a row…] Normally we should all be happy about miracle drugs... shouldn't we ? Yes, there is lots of upside from taking semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy), tirzepatide (Montjaro)--and upcoming new, even-more-miraculous drugs TBD:  losing huge amounts of weight quickly, a much lower risk of diabetes–and probably less heart disease and other chronic conditions as well.  But what if the “miracle” requires:   $200-300/week, with a lifetime cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars…  a drug that you can never quit…because if you stop taking it, you gain back all the weight it helped you lose–not to mention the chronic diseases which the drugs kept at bay… and it leaves your face (and the rest of your skin?) sagging …    (plus, it’s so new at such high dosages– who knows what happens after years of use…? ) No doubt, in spite of this--many people with severe obesi

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

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