Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How Do You Define “Prevention”?

I didn’t know Tim Russert but I felt the pinch of sadness when I heard the news he died. When I heard the news he died from a heart attack, I was hopeful the silver lining from his loss would be a renewed conversation about heart health and a preventative lifestyle.

We came this close to losing my Dad to a heart attack a few years ago, and I know health and lifestyle are important topics. Wild animals don’t die of heart attacks, yet humans and domesticated pets do. Yes, some people have bad genes (like my father and, I assume, like me) but here’s a philosophy I agree with: Genes may be the bullet, but lifestyle is the trigger.

How can we keep from pulling the trigger? A heart attack isn’t inevitable. Exercise is vital, as is proper diet. Last night, on ABC World News with Charles Gibson, they offered a report on heart attacks as part of a tribute to Tim Russert. As the reporter talked about the importance of a preventative lifestyle, what images do you think flashed across the screen?

Green veggies? Whole grains? Fresh fruits?

Nope. It was big white pills.

We have TiVo and, when I saw this, I hit “pause” and put my head on the coffee table. “How can they miss the fact that food is the most important, influential drug on the planet?” I asked my husband. He offered up a really profound answer. “Drug companies are one of the biggest advertisers on television,” he said. “The news networks aren’t going to bite the hands that feed them.”


For years, we’ve been fed lied (both literally and figuratively) about how to live and what to eat. Drink coffee. Avoid coffee. Eat eggs. Avoid eggs. Carbs are necessary. Carbs are evil. The food pyramid keeps changing, and still isn’t right. And then there are commercials for drug companies that include warnings longer than the actual pitch.

Did you know that drug companies used to market solely to doctors but found their profits soared when they marketed to us? I don’t think drug companies should market to anyone. And I’m referring to both prescription and over-the-counter medications. It’s gotten so far out of hand. Think about it: We live in a world where Advil’s campaign is “I’m all Advil” . . . and it works.

Who, really, wants to be all Advil?

I’d rather be all health. Pass the green veggies, whole grains, and fresh fruits, please.

Question of the blog: When you’re enlightened, how do you deal with those who try to cast shadows?

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