Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Exercise for America!

The famous WWII poster of Rosie the Riveter emphasized that women were an important part of the war effort.  Today, as Atul Gawande's article makes clear, health care costs are a national threat.  It is not as exciting or as focused as Hitler and the Axis but still an important challenge.  Just as Rosie and other Americans did their bit, we could do ours.  The usual points aresomething like
  1. don't smoke,
  2. exercise,
  3. get to and keep a good weight,
  4. stay hydrated, and
  5. eat a balanced diet
I haven't seen any government or political posters or ads emphasizing that taking these steps seriously can actually assist our country but I think it is true.  Can't you imagine a little bit of a tax break for those who can document to the IRS that they don't smoke, do exercise, have an OK body mass, are properly hydrated and eat a balanced diet.  

There could be  a focus on just one of the five points per year.  That way, the people and the system involved to document the citizen's personal contribution to good of the country could be smaller and simpler.

I am just guessing at the best principles to emphasize.  There might be others with more potential payoff.  Practicing body balance to lessen falls or developing more muscle mass might be more valuable to the U.S.A. or the world.  Reading more or sleeping more might eventually save more lives or better more of them.

The valuable points that the government would reward might be different for different age groups.  I have read that a very large portion of the total health expenditures of the country are spent on people aged 65 and older.  So, what older citizens could do to lower the bill and free more resources for others might be different from the best paths toward improvement for children or teenagers. 

Vitamin D has been showing itself to be especially important lately.  It might be that more of that vitamin or more for particular age groups would qualify them for a tax break or other benefit.  There might be other nutrients that are especially valuable or notably missing in our citizens.

We are all part of the greater whole and the state of our health is something that effects everyone else, not just ourselves.  If we all manage to pay taxes to support the community we live in, both locally and the larger communities, it seems that we might also take actions to assist those communities with our own health, to some extent.

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