One Million Deaths Per Year

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Sven Sven's picture
One Million Deaths Per Year

     

Sven Sven's picture

[url=Savings">http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB124234518114321687-lMyQjAxMDI5NDEy... Lives with Self-Control[/url]:

"With all the talk of swine flu, universal health insurance and computerizing medical records, you'd think epidemics and inadequate medical care were the major threats to public health in this country. But an important new study on preventable deaths will quickly disabuse you of that notion. Read the report and you'll likely conclude that the biggest premature killer of Americans is . . . Americans.

Too many of us appear to be bent on slow-motion suicide. Consider smoking; if we could get every American to stop, we'd save 467,000 lives annually. Solving high blood pressure (much of it arising from unhealthy lifestyles) would save 395,000. And if we could get everyone to slim down to an appropriate body weight, we'd save 216,000 lives.

You can't aggregate all the lives that would be saved from the 12 lifestyle factors covered by the study because of some serious overlap; obesity, for instance, causes a lot of hypertension. But Dr. Majid Ezzati, a Harvard School of Public Health professor who co-authored the report, estimates that if you net out the double-counting, somewhat more than a million people die annually from the 12 behavioral risk factors, which include the obvious (immoderate alcohol consumption) and the less so (eating too little fish, which provides omega-3 fatty acids).

Put more starkly: Of the 2.5 million deaths that occur annually in America, something approaching half could be prevented if people simply led healthier lives.

The study, "The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors," has some serious policy implications. Take universal health insurance -- which Dr. Ezzati fully advocates. It would surely save lives, but as the authors acknowledge, "the results of our analysis of dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors show that targeting a handful of risk factors has large potential to reduce mortality in the US, substantially more than the current estimated 18,000 deaths" that advocates say universal coverage might avert."

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Sven Sven's picture

Here's a direct link to the published study itself:

[url=The">http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.... Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors[/url]

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George Victor

Down with the advertisers of death!

Sven Sven's picture

George Victor wrote:

Down with the advertisers of death!

Last time I walked by a McD's, no one was putting a gun to anyone's head to order and eat a Big Mac and a large order of fries.

Besides, advertisers have nothing to do with people being couch potatoes and doing little or no exercise (which is probably the biggest problem).

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George Victor

Libertarianism is so rational, so individualistic, so disconnected from social/psychological reality, so God-like in its certainties.

Sven Sven's picture

The study indicates that 1 million lives are lost each year due, largely, to lifestyle choices.  I'm not in favor of banning things (look how well that worked with alcohol in the 1920s and with the current "war on drugs").  But, I do favor a more proactive government with respect to education.

In addition, as a society, can't poor lifestyle choices (like not exercising and overeating) start to be equated with, say, smoking?  Smoking over the last twenty years has come to be viewed by most people as an ugly habit to be avoided.  It's so much less socially acceptable.  Parties used to be filled with smokers.  Now, smokers are becoming the rare exception because, in no small part, smoking is viewed so negatively by society.

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Dbrids

Sven, do you think the elimination of pro-smoking advertisments player a part in that diminishment?

 

I really do get sick of McDonalds ads telling me how much fun and how many friends id have if I would just go buy a Big Mac

Sven Sven's picture

Dbrids wrote:
 

I really do get sick of McDonalds ads telling me how much fun and how many friends id have if I would just go buy a Big Mac

Do those ads cause you to eat at McD's?  Or, do you tune the ads out and make other choices?  I choose to tune them out.

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Dbrids

Sven wrote:

Dbrids wrote:
 

I really do get sick of McDonalds ads telling me how much fun and how many friends id have if I would just go buy a Big Mac

Do those ads cause you to eat at McD's?  Or, do you tune the ads out and make other choices?  I choose to tune them out.

 

I certainly do tune them out, its the little kiddies i worry about

Sven Sven's picture

Dbrids wrote:
 

I certainly do tune them out, its the little kiddies i worry about

If McD ads are one of the biggest threats to little kiddies, they have nothing to worry about life.

Besides, what do you want to do, ban McD ads?

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Dbrids

Sven wrote:

If McD ads are one of the biggest threats to little kiddies, they have nothing to worry about life.

Besides, what do you want to do, ban McD ads?

 

Well I wouldnt say its the biggest threat to kids at all and i agree with your sentiments towards banning things, but a little more accountability on the side of the producers of these products would be nice (not just McDs either that was just an example).

George Victor

Just make them honest ads, explaining just what consuming that food can do to people.

You wouldn't want to mislead, would you Sven? Not the Christian thing to do! Not now that we are demanding honesty even from  Wall Street!

remind remind's picture

Dbrids wrote:
Sven, do you think the elimination of pro-smoking advertisments player a part in that diminishment?

Of course this aspect was overlooked by sven!

Sven Sven's picture

George Victor wrote:

Just make them honest ads, explaining just what consuming that food can do to people.

You mean have the McD ads tell people that if they eat two Big Macs and a large order of fries everyday that they will likely...get fat?

ETA: I suppose we could also require car ads in America to each explicitly warn would-be customers that over 40,000 people die in those damned machines every year.

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George Victor

In America, anything is possible, Sven. Look around at what The Land of the Free  has accomplished recently...in the name of some kind of freedom.

Sven Sven's picture

George Victor wrote:

In America, anything is possible, Sven. Look around at what The Land of the Free  has accomplished recently...in the name of some kind of freedom.

Indeed.  People making stupid choices is a downside of the freedom to choose.

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Sineed

I go onto an American medical site sometimes to chat with the folks, and basically, Americans largely scorn any explanation besides personal responsibility to account for lifestyle-related illnesses.  I tried arguing with them, saying Americans are the fattest people in the world, and people have noticed that when they leave the US to live in Europe (or Canada!), they lose weight, and vice versa.  I pointed out that if something is a widespread phenomenon, there must be cultural forces at work that are larger than the individual.  But they continue to say, everybody has the freedom to put the fork down, and besides, it's immoral to interfere with the free market (I think some of these people read too much Ayn Rand at a vulnerable age).

Sven Sven's picture

Sineed wrote:

I pointed out that if something is a widespread phenomenon, there must be cultural forces at work that are larger than the individual.

There probably are a variety of "cultural forces" which influence people's behavior, but those cultural forces do not strip people of their ability to make individual choices.  If I want to sit on my couch at night or if I want to go for a walk, the choice is up to me.

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martin dufresne

If one leaves it up to yakking individuals to rule whether it is individuals who rule, what answer do you expect to get? There is not much truth in advertising, but there is even less in Internet forum opinionizing.

George Victor

Opinionizing or moralizing md?

Sure as hell isn't based on social science, eh?

Sineed brings explanation and comparison, thankfully.

Slumberjack

martin dufresne wrote:
If one leaves it up to yakking individuals to rule whether it is individuals who rule, what answer do you expect to get? There is not much truth in advertising, but there is even less in Internet forum opinionizing.

Is this a confession?

al-Qa'bong

Sven wrote:

Besides, what do you want to do, ban McD ads?

 

I'd start there, but my ultimate goal would be to bulldoze McDo sites and plant them over with potato patches or fruit trees.

Sven Sven's picture

al-Qa'bong wrote:

Sven wrote:

Besides, what do you want to do, ban McD ads?

I'd start there, but my ultimate goal would be to bulldoze McDo sites and plant them over with potato patches or fruit trees.

I guess that is where we have a fundamental difference: I don't like McD's but I'm not going to impose my preference on those who do.

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RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

But what about all those dying people?

Sven Sven's picture

RevolutionPlease wrote:

But what about all those dying people?

What about all of the lives destroyed and lost due to the availability of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco?

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RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

But that's regulated.  To minors at least.

Sven Sven's picture

RevolutionPlease wrote:

But that's regulated.  To minors at least.

So, all of the lives lost and destroyed by alcohol, drugs, and tobacco is acceptable...simply because they are "regulated"?  What's that supposed to mean?

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RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

The Mickey D's is usually associated.

Sven Sven's picture

RevolutionPlease wrote:

The Mickey D's is usually associated.

Now you're just talking in riddles.

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RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Why isn't food regulated like the vices you're noting?

 

eta: or regulated to the same degree.

Sven Sven's picture

RevolutionPlease wrote:

Why isn't food regulated like the vices you're noting?

eta: or regulated to the same degree.

Perhaps you're missing my point: Alcohol and tobacco are heavily regulated and drugs are so regulated that they are illegal.  Yet, despite those regulations, they kill people by the millions.  Thus the "success" of regulation.

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RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

But your article also says millions are also dying of McPukes.  Where's the outrage?

Sven Sven's picture

RevolutionPlease wrote:

But your article also says millions are also dying of McPukes.  Where's the outrage?

The article is not saying that millions are dying because of McDonalds.  Poor food choices generally along with poor alcohol use choices, poor tobacco choices, poor exercise choices, and so forth are causing a million unnecessary deaths annually.

As someone who tends to be libertarian, I don't think we should be regulating any of those things (certainly not banning them or making them illegal).  Do you?

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George Victor

When a libertarian "comes clean", Sven, the debate has to end, because a rational, scientific approach will never break through the firewall of self-importance of your standard libertarian, whose worldview has all the sweep of a hermit.

You are not describing the human condition, only the statistics that allow you to retreat to your smug, superior little world with some kind of satisfaction. To paraphrase the old Christian explanation for the difference that you seek to explain between yourself and the hoi polloi: There but for the grace of my own superior intellect go I.

 

Sven Sven's picture

George Victor wrote:

When a libertarian "comes clean", Sven, the debate has to end, because a rational, scientific approach will never break through the firewall of self-importance of your standard libertarian

That is a wonderul example of "a rational, scientiific apprproach" to discussing this issue, Victor.

[IMG]http://i34.tinypic.com/11raq06.gif[/IMG]

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Dbrids

For drugs, alcohol and tobacco there are programs of education and a general understanding that these will have negative impacts on your life, which came about through the concious effort of people who realized the dangers of persistant use of these substances. I am of the opinion that the same considerations should be made for 'junk food' and I do believe it has come a long way in recent years.

Freedom of choice will always be available but somewhere the protection of truthful and unbiased information must be upheld, and it is certainly not going to come from the producers..

cps

Poor lifestlye choices, especially around food are more complex than simply telling people to put the fork down, though clearly personal choice does enter into it.

Products like HFCS and other refined carbohydrates can create addictive behaviours in some folks, especially in children.  Put that together with the food scientists who are working on maximizing the pleasure centres hit by each bite of Big Mac or Whopper and the advertising aimed at children and you have something I consider insideous. 

Healthy, fresh food is often more expensive than it's cheaper, nutritionally bankrupt alternatives.  During the recent (and ongoing) slide in the economy, McD's was actually doing better than when times were more prosperous.  I would attribute this to it's cost as well as the psychological comfort it gives to some people. 

It comes down to education around healthy eating (of which there is almost none in the public schools) and making physical activity either necessary or affordable.  Of course this is where people chime in that walking is free.  My reply is that in terms of finding time, walking is sometimes less free than you might think, given the costs of child care, etc. 

People are making poor choices for myriad of factors, not merely a lack of will-power.  Of course, if someone was very fit, it might be comforting to believe that other people merely lacked will power and therefore were inferior.  Clearly, trends are showing an increasing level of inactivity, poor eating habits, and morbid obesity, I find it difficult to surmise that this is all merely due to a collective decline in will power, that is about as believable as the claim that somehow there has been a rapid evolution in the last 100 years to predispose folks to obesity. 

 

 edit to say that Dbrids hit the nail on the head...

 

remind remind's picture

George Victor wrote:
There but for the grace of my own superior intellect go I.

LOL!

But more seriously, I was having a conversation last evening with a family member, who has a bit of the libertarian streak within, but only in so far as it pertains to his choices and freedoms.

It seems to me, that libertarianism appeals  in the majority to white men.

Sven Sven's picture

remind wrote:

It seems to me, that libertarianism appeals  in the majority to white men.

And, just to complete that thought:

"Therefore, libertarianism is closely associated with racism and sexism."

[IMG]http://i34.tinypic.com/11raq06.gif[/IMG]

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Jingles

We all gotta go to that lonesome valley someday. Pick your poison, and don't whine when it bites.

 

 

Sineed

remind wrote:

It seems to me, that libertarianism appeals  in the majority to white men.

I've noticed that too; it's like a cultural trait.

As part of these courses I'm taking, I've read some articles on the prevention of diabetes.  In a nutshell, diet and exercise are the most effective means of preventing type II diabetes; however, the study participants found it extremely hard to comply with the measures prescribed to them even with intensive follow up (counselling sessions, etc).  What I'd like to see are "sin taxes" on unhealthy foods, and more support for lifestyle changes.  

As has been said before, part of the problem is that the US is a car-centric culture, their cities, towns, structured around driving from place to place, while most European cities had substantial infrastructure in place centuries before cars, so people have to walk a lot to get to places.  The best way to lose weight, I have found, is to make healthier choices part of your day, so you don't even think about it or have to exercise any will power.  So I don't own a car, and by necessity have to walk a lot - I lost weight after I got rid of the car.

I know not everybody can be car-less, but if people's lives were structured such that they walked more when doing their shopping, and when they arrived at the grocery store, the crappy food isn't front and centre, cheap and easy, people won't require so much will power.

People do have to make an effort, especially when you get over 40.  But there has to be more societal support. 

remind remind's picture

Sven wrote:
remind wrote:
It seems to me, that libertarianism appeals  in the majority to white men.

And, just to complete that thought:

"Therefore, libertarianism is closely associated with racism and sexism."

Wow, are you admiting this? As you stated that, not me.

 

Dbrids

Sineed wrote:

I know not everybody can be car-less, but if people's lives were structured such that they walked more when doing their shopping, and when they arrived at the grocery store, the crappy food isn't front and centre, cheap and easy, people won't require so much will power.

I know that as a cash strapped student i would greatly appreciate healthy food being cheaper than the garbage, when you start getting low on funds you have choice but to start eating junk.

Your points about autocentric North America are extremely relevant, driving through new communties built at automobile scale makes you wonder if anyone is thinking about life past twenty years from now.

Sven Sven's picture

remind wrote:

Sven wrote:
remind wrote:
It seems to me, that libertarianism appeals  in the majority to white men.

And, just to complete that thought:

"Therefore, libertarianism is closely associated with racism and sexism."

Wow, are you admiting this? As you stated that, not me.

No.  Of course not.  But what is the point of your comment about libertarians being mostly "white men"?

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G. Muffin

Sineed wrote:
What I'd like to see are "sin taxes" on unhealthy foods ...

Theoretically, I think this is a great idea but the problem is:  Who decides what's unhealthy?  The Canada Food Guide looks like it was designed by the Dairy Board. 

Quote:
The best way to lose weight, I have found, is to make healthier choices part of your day, so you don't even think about it or have to exercise any will power.

Agreed.  Making and keeping a commitment to walk to work, shop, whatever, is so much easier than imposing a gym schedule.

remind remind's picture
cps

Dbrids wrote:

I know that as a cash strapped student i would greatly appreciate healthy food being cheaper than the garbage, when you start getting low on funds you have choice but to start eating junk.

There are some healthy foods that are really quite inexpensive, the trouble is that they are not the most flavourful and eating them becomes boring.  Bulk oats, tuna, legumes, etc. 

I'd love to see healthy foods like fresh local produce subsidized in some way though I can only imagine the cries of market tampering.

 

 

al-Qa'bong

Quote:
I know that as a cash strapped student i would greatly appreciate healthy food being cheaper than the garbage, when you start getting low on funds you have choice but to start eating junk.

 

I was once a cash-strapped student (there was this one time while I was waiting for the student loan cheque to come, when I was going through all my cupboards looking for anything to feed the family) and I didn't resort to eating junk. Cooking at home is far cheaper than any fast food place.

 

Quote:
I guess that is where we have a fundamental difference: I don't like McD's but I'm not going to impose my preference on those who do.

 

I should have the freedom not to have a McDo (or ten) where I live. I pay my taxes, dammit!

Dbrids

al-Qa'bong wrote:

I was once a cash-strapped student (there was this one time while I was waiting for the student loan cheque to come, when I was going through all my cupboards looking for anything to feed the family) and I didn't resort to eating junk. Cooking at home is far cheaper than any fast food place.

 

I agree that home cooking is always cheaper than fast food, the junk i was referring to in this case was the cheap grocery store junk. For example nice fruits and vegetables are expensive! same with meats and poulty.

But KD and ketchup is still a solid meal don't get me wrong Tongue out

G. Muffin

Dbrids wrote:
But KD and ketchup is still a solid meal don't get me wrong Tongue out

Especially if you perf it up by cutting up hot dog weiners into it!

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