Thursday, March 13, 2014

Society’s Health:  Often A Matter of Prudence, Not Medical Care

Know prudent cautions self-control is wisdom’s root.

Robert Burns (1759-1796), A Bard’s Epitaph

In an era of organ transplants and the cracking of the genetic code, it seems boring to suggest that the most important path to health is a vanilla virtue: prudence.

George Will, “ Better Health Through Good Choices, “ Washington Post, March 12, 2014

Society's health depends more of what people choose to do: smoke or not to smoke,  eat the right foods on not, exercise or not more than its health system. 
This is an important reminder as we are in the middle of the muddle over ObamaCare.   In 2006, David Satcher MD, a former surgeon general puts these numbers on the factors contributing to societal health:  medical care 15%, life style 20% to 30%, other factors 55% (poverty, inferior education, income differences, and lack of social cohesion (Multicultural Medicine and Health Differences, McGraw Hill, 2005). 

In his Washington Post piece,  George Will reminds us that cumulative  talk from Government , the media, and among ourselves is perhaps equally important in elevating the level of society’s health .   Will cites the drop in smoking rates from 40% to less than 20% over the last 50 years and drop of childhood obesity from  14% in 2004 to 8% today.   Will cogently observes that much of America’s health bills – from  violence, vehicular violence, coronary artery disease, lung cancer, AIDs, type 2 diabetes brought on by obesity – results from personal choices, and behaviors known to be risky.    

Society’s level of health does not depend primarily upon medicine, but on personal choices and prudent  behavior.  Prudence is a virtue and is the greatest preventive  health measure available to society.

Tweet:  Society’s level of health depends more upon personal  behavioral choices rather than on the wonders of modern medicine or access to health care.

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