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Blog for Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Good evening, everyone! Welcome to today's blog. Today we'll get another article opining on the UK's proposal to include exercise equivalents on nutrition labels(examples of which are in the image from our Facebook link), why you shouldn't listen to your doctor for healthy diet advice, and why you should eat more cantaloupe! First off, I've included articles on this topic 3 times now, but the proposal to include exercise equivalents on foods' nutrition labels fascinates me. Once again, the only real negative mentioned in this latest article is that it could exacerbate the problem of eating disorders, such as orthorexia, anorexia, and bulimia. This is a legitimate concern, but I think a necessary risk. The stimuli and information that could exacerbate eating disorders is all around us, all the time. I have a hard time thinking that "suggesting" or "reminding" someone that exercise is required to burn a foods' calories would cause them to develop an eating disorder. The calorie counts are already there. To quote the article, "By providing calorie information in terms of physical activity, it makes it more relatable to people's lives and things they do on a daily or weekly basis." If nothing else, it seems worth a shot. (But certainly not a cure-all!) One last quote from the article, " No one claims that these labels will be a panacea to the obesity epidemic, but rather that it can play a role in a series of new initiatives to combat unhealthy lifestyles." Next, I know most of us trust our doctor, but this article tells us why they might not be the person you should turn to for healthy diet information. While doctors are commissioned by the Hippocratic Oath to, among other things, "I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.", with your weight and diet, this might not always be the case. There are a myriad of reasons for this. One reason is that modern medicine is based on a "disease-based model", which is all to say that doctors are more "comfortable" treating your high blood pressure and diabetes than having an awkward conversation with you about the possible ramifications of being overweight or obese. This can be especially awkward if the doctor him/herself is overweight. The doctor could risk offending the patient, and losing them to another doctor, despite having the patients' best interest in mind. Other reasons to not breach the topic include a lack of compliance from patients with dietary advice, and, until recently, a lack of compensation for obesity counseling. And this is not something that's isolated, as illustrated by this excerpt: 

"Statistics confirm the scope of this alarming scope of this dereliction of duty. An analysis of government health surveys containing data on 5,500 people revealed that one-third of obese patients and 55 percent of those who were overweight had never been told by their doctor that they were overweight. You may assume that these patients knew that they needed to lose weight, but you’d be mistaken. Since two-thirds of the population is now overweight or obese, many people don’t realize that they are not leading healthy lifestyles simply because carrying around extra pounds has become normalized." 

If I haven't mentioned it before, I studied Economics in college. A primary tenet of Economics is that people respond to incentives. So if you want more or less of behaviors, you design incentive systems accordingly. In this scenario, I'm happy to see that doctors are now compensated for obesity counseling, but they are also still compensated for treating the diseases that come along with obesity. Which is to say, there are incentives for them whether their patients become obese and develop, say, diabetes, or if they don't. I'm no politician, but I think an interesting incentive structure for doctors would be to base their pay, at least somewhat, on life expectancy of their patients. It might take some time to accumulate data, but isn't that the main reason we all want to be healthier? So that we don't die? 

Lastly, have you enjoyed a cantaloupe lately? According to this article, you should! Cantaloupes are packed with nutrients, especially on a per-calorie basis. Their high-water content helps to prevent dehydration, and causes a 1-cup serving to check in at only 100 calories! Packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium,fiber, and higher concentrations of beta-carotene than oranges, cantaloupes might deserve a spot in your fruit rotation! This nutritional profile is what makes cantaloupe a fruit that can benefit you health in many ways, including: antioxidants(they can help prevent cancer, arthritis, and heart disease!), lower risk of metabolic syndrome, improved eye health, reduced asthma symptoms, improved wound healing, increased hair and skin health, improved iron absorption, increased hydration, better digestion, and a healthier heart. Now that's a melon. (a muskmelon, actually) Be healthy, my friends. 

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