Browsing the Sunday papers and news programs this morning I was confronted with an overwhelming array of seemingly insurmountable problems facing our country and the world today. Car bombers, suicide bombers, famines, civil wars, and for the past six years Dick Cheney has apparently been secretly rewriting the Constitution to make the office of the Vice President a separate and omnipotent branch of the government, unaccountable to anyone.
It’s all just too much to bear for one Sunday morning.
Pondering the state of the world I couldn’t help but wonder if I’m not wasting my time spending every week podcasting about diet and exercise. Shouldn’t I be focused on a more pressing issue?
But then the number 365,000 came to mind. Three hundred and sixty-five-thousand!
Why that number?
Three hundred and sixty-five-thousand is the number of Americans who die EVERY YEAR as a consequence of poor diet and lack of exercise. That’s a lot of preventable premature deaths. And the estimate of 365,000 is considered to be very conservative – in other words, it’s probably a lot higher.
I heard an interview this past Friday with a science writer who has just written a book about obesity. I won’t write her name, or tell you the name of her book. I will just tell you that she would like us all to believe that the obesity epidemic is mostly just a “myth” and that we really aren’t eating ourselves to death. Everything this science writer said in her interview offended me, but the thing that really got to me was this quote: “If all it took to cure type 2 diabetes was a healthy diet and regular exercise don’t you think every type 2 diabetic would happily do that rather than take drugs and insulin for the rest of their lives?” That’s my best recollection of what she said.
The answer is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented by a healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight – and in people who already have the disease it can be brought under control to the point that fewer drugs, or maybe no drugs, are needed to treat it. But few people will actually take this message to heart and act on it. And here she comes saying it’s all a myth anyway.
The reality, I concluded, is that healthy eating and exercise are, in fact, very important topics that aren’t being discussed enough. And sometimes when pseudoexperts posing as science writers discuss the topic of lifestyle the information is outrageously mangled so as to mislead the public.
I’ll keep podcasting. With a little luck next year the number might be 364, 999.