Latest news shows more unhealthy trends for patients and politics
These trends certainly don’t bode well for a healthy nation
It sure looks as if the nation is headed in the wrong direction. While that’s not intended as a blanket political statement, opinion polling would show there are strong arguments for and against such a position. It’s something we will all spend the next six months debating, especially as the fall election draws closer. But a couple of recent stories specifically reinforce trends that continue to jeopardize the long-term health of our country.
Last week brought the release of another set of reports on the state of our nation’s obesity epidemic. And the news isn’t good.
One study, conducted by researchers at Duke University and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, estimates that by the year 2030, the percentage of our population considered obese is projected to hit 42%, up from the current 34%. The change would represent an increase of about 32 million Americans. And of the total, 11% will be severely obese in 2030, compared with 6% now.
The findings do have a silver lining, since a study four years ago estimated that more than half (51%) of the nation’s population would be classified as obese by 2030. Maybe the sustained attention and intervention efforts targeting obesity are starting to show some results, even if the numbers are still going the wrong way.
According to the study, holding the current rate of obesity in America flat would avoid an estimated $550 billion in related medical costs over the next two decades. Now that would be an attractive return on investment.
A second report last week, this one from the Institute of Medicine, focused on systemic causes of obesity, moving the spotlight off individual blame to more broad-based initiatives that could prove highly effective, especially emphasis on exercise programs and better food choices in our schools. More controversial proposals include a tax on sweetened drinks to discourage high-caloric consumption. Such approaches are certainly food for thought.
Another story last week that portends a continued slide in the wrong direction—in public policy and our public discourse—involves the primary-election defeat of Sen. Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, ending nearly four decades of service in the U.S. Senate. His most grievous sins? Apparently he was too prone to compromise, to seek common ground and to show collegiality. That was anathema to his opponent and apparently much of his party.
Of course, compromise without principles is a worthless exercise. But that isn’t Lugar. If the people of the Hoosier State had doubts about Lugar’s core beliefs, it’s amazing that it only took 37 years for them to fire him.
It’s yet another blow to the chances for essential bipartisan resolution of critical issues that face the nation, such as confronting deep budget deficits and our mountain of debt as well as addressing the long-term health of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
In a prepared post-concession statement last week, Lugar took aim at what he saw as the unbending approach of his opponent, who Lugar said promised “reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. … This is not conducive to problem-solving and governance.”
No matter what happens in the November elections, one-party solutions will not be viable. Those running for Congress and those who already hold a seat there should remember something known as the “Great Compromise of 1787,” an achievement that established the representative structure of the very institution to which they aspire.
Compromise? The Founding Fathers must have been crazy.