Monday, August 9, 2010

The U.S. Surgeon General Tackles Obesity.... NOT

Remember when we had, for example here and here, U.S. Surgeon Generals that really shook things up? That's not the situation today. Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A has issued forth with a milquetoast style public appearance to promote a "Healthy and Fit Nation" report that's stuffed with more bland nostrums than the creme in a supermarket donut.

Despite its admiration for for Dr. Benjamin, the Disease Management Care Blog is disappointed over her recitation of the usual anti-obesity bromides: eat fewer calories, improve food choices, promote physical activity, bring physical education/playtime back to schools, create worksite wellness programs, engage the physicians and establish healthy communities. Public health experts have been reciting the same thing for years without effect.

Here's some unasked-for advice DMCB to our Surgeon General:

While you serve at the political pleasure of the President, you also have the benefit of Senate confirmation, the stature of your office and the confidence of the American people. Why not use it?

To wit, you could point out:

....there are many reasons to not listen to Mike Hukabee, but there's
one reason why he has some credibility on the topic. You need to announce that your leadership on the topic will start at the top. 'Nuff said.

....since the
U.S. government happens to also be a large employer, it could be doing much more to lead the way in combating workplace obesity. The silence in this area is deafening.

....that the risk of obesity should be
into perspective. Shouldn't we be less irrational about our bodies and more realistic about what can be achieved?

.... that there is merit to the idea of harnessing private-public entrepreneurship with
competitions aimed at sustainable but challenging weight loss goals in schools and communities.

.... there may be something to an enlightened
soup nazi approach to worksite wellness.

.... that the rationale of
aggressively taxing sugared beverages makes sense and that you stand against the food industry's actions in this area.

.... that
banning internal combustion engines within a mile of our schools is an intriguing idea.

.... that there may be merit to conducting expeditiously conducted pilot programs to
determine the role of medications to combat obesity, especially in children. The DMCB doesn't like the idea either, but since good comparative effectiveness research indicates just diet and exercise has little impact, what other options are there? Bariatric surgery?

remotely positioned disease management that engages persons using the latest advances in behavior change is an important part of the solution.

The DMCB admits to bringing up some controversial topics. The point is that it came up with these in an afternoon while working on other stuff. Our Surgeon General can report on these and other options in the battle against obesity. All she needs to do is to take a cue from her more famous predecessors, step outside the political safe zone, invest more effort in thinking about breakthrough/high impact approaches and challenge Americans to actually do something fer cryin' out loud.

1 comment:

jb in indiana said...

It's about time we as a nation start taking obesity more seriously. We know some major causes, so let's start taxing the problem products (i.e. soda, candy etc) and use that revenue for awareness programs and treatments.