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HEALTH CARE: Playgrounds and Waistlines

March 4, 2010

Just a quick thought related to Allie's post on child obesity. (And see posts here and here.) We hear a lot about social determinants of health, and the need for sidewalks, walking paths, playgrounds and other places for kids to move around and exercise. Some people tend to dismiss this as do-gooder daydreaming, not health policy. But the March Health Affairs includes a study by Gopal Singh and associates that demonstrates how the environment affects childhood weight. Look at this chart: 


HEALTH REFORM: Cheap Calories

March 4, 2010
Publication Image

Child obesity is the focus of the March edition of Health Affairs, and we heard a number of policymakers and health care leaders explore strategies for addressing the crisis at a Health Affairs briefing here this week.

Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer likened the obesity epidemic to child abuse. “It is one thing to be a nation that’s allowed two-thirds of its arguably ‘personally responsible’ adults to become overweight or obese. Kids are becoming obese or overweight at the ripe old age of four, meaning that they are already predisposed to shorter, sicker lives from diabetes, heart problems, even certain types of cancer. What is this crisis if not some national form of child abuse?”

Michelle Obama’s Healthy Food Campaign

  • By
  • Dayo Olopade,
  • New America Foundation
February 1, 2010 |

The White House Kitchen Garden is frozen under, but, this Black History Month, first lady Michelle Obama is once more using food to address the epidemic of childhood obesity that has gripped the country and, she said in a recent speech to the United States’ Conference on Mayors, “never fails to take my breath away.”

HEALTH CARE: The Artery Scanners and the Figure Skaters

March 5, 2010
Figure Skating

Remember a couple of weeks ago I told you about the junk mail I was getting inviting me to have all sorts of unnecessary imaging tests done of my blood vessels to SAVE MY LIFE for a mere $139 ($149 if I throw in the osteoporosis risk assessment). Well, the artery scanners are back in my mail box with a Secret Weapon. This time the letter was signed by figure skating icon Peggy Fleming. "As an Olympic champion and breast cancer survivor, I've always understood the importance of taking steps to take care of my health."  She explains everything I want to know abou 6-lead EKGs (are they anything like triple lutzes?). In her work for Life Line Technologies, she signs herself "Olympian, Preventive Health Advocate."

HEALTH CARE: Public Health in the Budget

February 8, 2010

Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, writes on the RWJF blog about public health and prevention elements in the Obama administration's proposed budget. Not a huge amount of new money given the economic circumstances but touching on a lot of the right priorities, including money to follow through on the new law that gives the FDA greater authority to regulate tobacco and a small ($10 million) investment in workplace wellness for U.S. government employees. We'll try to find out a bit more about that wellness initiative in the future, but probably not today as Washington hunkers down for big snowstorm (which as you may know Washingtonians treat like a four month Arctic expedition.) Here's what Levi found:

HEALTH CARE: California and the Environment -- The Food and Fat Environment

February 3, 2010
Burger and Fries

A series from The Los Angeles Times this week on the serious health issues -- and enormous healthcare costs  -- associated with obesity contained a curious omission: the concrete steps that state and local governments here in California have taken to mitigate them.

Though largely unaddressed in the LA Times articles, the weight of evidence lies behind the assertion by Dr. Deborah Cohen of RAND that:  “Much obesity is the result of genetics and the environment. Yet we're blaming individuals when the food environment is the problem.” 

HEALTH CARE: Self-Care for Chronic Disease -- And How Health Reform Would Help

January 29, 2010
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We have written before about an interesting and ambitious initiative to improve care of low-income people with chronic diseases here in D.C., and some of the people involved allowed me to sit in on a brain-storming session earlier this week. The topic was self-care. How to get patients invested in, and capable of, managing their own chronic diseases. 

HEALTH CARE: Kicking the Habit in Medicaid

January 15, 2010
No Smoking

One of the public health steps within health reform legislation that hasn't gotten much attention is covering smoking cessation in Medicaid. The Senate will cover it for pregnant women under Medicaid, which itself will be expanded. The House goes further, covering smoking cessation for all Medicaid beneficiaries. 

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids is pushing for the House approach. The group's president Matt Myers said in a statement this week:

The final health care reform legislation should require comprehensive coverage of smoking cessation treatment, including medication and counseling with no cost-sharing requirements, for all Medicaid recipients, as the House-passed legislation would

HEALTH REFORM: Another Thing The Senate Wants For Christmas...

December 14, 2009
Publication Image

Not clear yet when we’ll get the next installment of CBO estimates for the Senate (maybe today, Monday) but while we were reviewing the Senate bill as it now stands ... we noticed this “Sense of the Senate.” (A sense of the Senate can sometimes be a nonbinding way of symbolically bridging ideological differences -- here it’s sort of Senate wish list.)

QUALITY: A War Worth Fighting

December 9, 2009
Smoking Ash Tray A new report released this morning by a group of public health organizations (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Action Network, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) shows that states take home more tobacco-related revenue than ever before but have actually decreased annual funding for smoking cessation programs.
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