Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Public Health

A newscaster was discussing what appears to be a growing trend where parents are choosing not to have their children receive any or all of the recommended (even mandatory) vaccines.  The change may be related to fears that are unsubstantiated, but I am not venturing into this argument - well, I would say that if you are contemplating not having your children vaccinated that you make sure your reasons are supported by reputable scientific sources.

The statement that caught my attention the other night was, to paraphrase:
That is why they call it Public Health.  The actions or inactions of an individual can have an impact on the health of others. 
A person's family, friends, community - the country can become sick or pay a cost because of one or more individuals behavior.
I, and many others, consider obesity to be a public health concern, but there are those that don't.  Some will say that being overweight or obese, to whatever degree that it is a choice, is a personal decision and thus, one's personal business.  Even if I believed that obesity was (always) solely the responsibility of an individual (I don't), I would still think that a high  population rate of obesity is  a Public Health issue.  
Obesity relates to a loss of productivity, mobility, mental health, physical health and independence.  Those losses can be devastating to one person, but we have about 75 million obese people in this country. The CDC estimates over 147 billion in medical costs for treating them in 2008 alone.  The mental and economical costs are not included
It is a good thing then that Medicare is going to start paying for some preventative services, but that's another story.  Point for today - Obesity IS a public health issue, if not crisis.

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