Want to know what is wrong with our health care system in less than 300 words. See this tragic story:
- Public Health and Prevention. Fail.
- Health care access for folks in the individual market or with preexisting conditions. Fail.
- National food policy. Fail.
- Cultural norms and desensitization to preventable morbidity (Heart Attack Grill? My god, what’s next, Strokes ‘R’ Us?). Fail.
- Our societal figureheads and leaders advocating free access to junk food. I won’t say her name. Fail.
- Advertising industry, responsibility, and, well, good taste. Men with risk factors will see this as a challenge, not a warning. Trust me, I am one. Fail.
- A good reason for Chinese not to worry about US finding our mojo anytime soon. (although this could be our long-term success strategy: export this franchise). US promoting wellness for long-term corporate success. Fail.
Hospitalist Take Home: I am certain that n=1 efforts, i.e., doctor centric action to reduce public health problems like that of good nutrition is futile (another post). However, that does not mean I do not try damn hard.
Drop a thirty second message at the bedside as you are discharging a patient: “soda is ALL sugar and a few a week will add needless pounds, etc.” Use a style you are comfortable with–even augmenting with visuals as they are powerful and do more in a glance than five minutes of discussion:
Also, don’t use the word calorie, diet, or other jargon–health literacy is trickier than you think. Additionally, it is not about patient engagement in the grand scheme or initiating lifestyle modifications 24/7, but passing on some useful facts (that most folks are unaware of) that may give pause and move a patient to the contemplative phase of change. It is our small part, and a meaningful message when we have little time and cant conscript a live at home health coach.
Finally, I am a member of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a great organization that works tirelessly in this realm. Look their site over.