Yesterday I saw enlightening news from the New England Journal of Medicine: Although heavy on statistical modeling, this Harvard study looked at the competing effects of smoking reductions and increases in obesity. It is true that the number of smokers is declining. This is very good. However, at the same time the number of obese individuals is dramatically increasing.
They showed that the health benefits realized by smoking reduction is overwhelmed by marked increases in obesity.
Here is yet another piece of evidence indicating the looming public health disaster which is obesity. Diabetes, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, sleep apnea, orthopedic issues and vascular disease are just a few medical problems directly related to being obese.
Obesity has so inundated the health care system a local hospital mandated a short course of powerpoint slides for their employees on caring for the obese patient. Terminology was front and center. These patients are to be called “people of size.”
Lately, I often reflect on my early days of practice here in Kentucky. There was a very senior and widely respected cardiologist who was known for his exceedingly blunt recommendations to “persons of size.” It was often overheard how mean he was to patients. Telling people they were fat and needed to lose weight immediately. With aging and experience, I suspect that this “meanie” was right on target.
As healthcare expansion looms, we have much work to do.