In The News

What Are Americans Afraid Of? 

The answers will surprise you. An online survey conducted by the American Diabetes Association found that people are afraid of things they have little control over and are not even likely to encounter. Some responses were: 16% plane crashes, 13% snake bite, 5% a lightening strike, 4% a shark attack, and only 5% were afraid of illness or disease. 

When asked about specific disease, 49% feared cancer and only 3 % feared diabetes. Strange coming from a country where 66% of the adult population is too fat, toddlers are already overweight or obese and kids are developing diabetes 40 years before they should.

 What we should fear.

Americans should be very afraid of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is very likely to lead to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure and blindness to name a few conditions that can result from diabetes. The good news is that type 2 diabetes it is almost always preventable. Why worry about something not likely to happen yet be unwilling to prevent what can be a devastating, painful, expensive, life-shortening disease that can significantly decrease your quality of life and that of the people you love? People with diabetes can pay thousand of dollars out-of-pocket for uncovered medical care.  Is it any wonder that 60% of bankruptcies are due to medical costs, even among people who have health insurance? 

One of the biggest risk factors for type 2 diabetes is excess body fat. With 66% of our population already at some risk how is it that people are so oblivious and feel that they can abuse the only body they will ever have? Are we so used to seeing overweight people that we accept it as the norm? Is it human nature thinking that “it can never happen to me”? What about people who feel that they have the freedom to live the way they want, but expect the rest of us to pay for the consequences of their decisions? Currently direct and indirect costs of diabetes are more than $218 billion per year.

We can’t fix the system without personal responsibility.

Our health care system is broken. We are very close to a breaking point. Health care costs are devastating businesses and our economy. Whether you have good health insurance or none, everyone pays in the end. When emergency care is needed the US is second to none. However, in many other aspects of health care we are pulling up the rear. We spend twice as much for health care per person than any other country. We are not getting what we pay for. Nor is a more costly system making us any healthier. We are 29th in infant mortality (behind Cuba and Bosnia) and even worse in mortality from chronic disease. One third of births are by costly and potentially dangerous C-sections. We pay for expensive procedures and drugs that aren’t any better than older therapies.

Will special interests still have their way?  

We allow direct to consumer advertising for prescription drugs under the guise of “education” because that is what the drug companies want. Drug companies spend far more on advertising than research and development. There are very few new drugs in the pipeline.

Why do we pay more for American-made drugs than other countries? Since Medicare part D began why have drug prices escalated far beyond inflation? Why is negotiation for better prices not allowed? We have become a drug-oriented culture that we can no longer afford. Nor is that approach making us any healthier. It’s just big pharma welfare. Yet it seems that the special interest will win out again and we the people are fully participating in allowing that to happen.

Where does personal responsibility fit in? No one really talks much about that. What responsibility do parents have in making sure their kids are healthy and well cared for?

Are some parents unwilling to address lifestyle issues because it means they have to make changes and set a healthy example?

What role does big business play in all of this? Is the food industry any different from the tobacco industry that for decades managed to continue their charade at the expense of people’s lives? Are we so blind to how the food industry has added more and more sugar to all kinds of foods to create a “sugar-addicted” society to reap ever-increasing profits? Are we so willing to blindly put money in the pockets of big business at the expense of our health and that of our loved ones? Are we willing to continue on this path that will mean less money for education, national security and other needs simply because we won’t eat better and move a bit more? Personally, I’m afraid of exactly that. We seem to be more willing to believe the marketing than to save ourselves and our country.  

We are a wonderful country and there is no justification for this kind of situation. We are the only industrialized country that is unwilling to provide affordable health care for all. It is time to fix what we can, and no matter how much health care reform we have or the special interests allow, without taking personal responsibility, it won’t much matter. We seem to be on a path to destroy our country and ourselves from the inside out.


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