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Gallup’s Top 10 U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2013

The Policy ThinkShop team wishes you and all of our visitors this year a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year!

Here are some fun facts about our health that will get us thinking about a healthier future and a happy 2014 from the Gallup organization:

Highlights from the health and well-being findings Gallup.com published in 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gallup published nearly 100 unique articles in 2013 about Americans\’ health and well-being. Through its daily surveys, conducted year-round, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uncovers new insights and provides the most up-to-date data available on Americans\’ mental state, exercise and eating habits, healthcare coverage, physical health, and financial well-being. The following list represents Gallup editors\’ picks for the top 10 most important findings from this year.

Lacking employment is most linked to having depression: For Americans, being unemployed, being out of the workforce, or working part time — but wanting full-time work — are the strongest predictors of having depression. Gallup found that these relationships hold true even after controlling for age, gender, income, education, race and ethnicity, marital status, having children, region, obesity, having health insurance, and being a caregiver. Bonus finding: Depression costs U.S. employers $23 billion in absenteeism each year.

Obesity is a growing problem for Americans: The adult obesity rate has been trending upward in 2013 will likely surpass rates since 2008, when Gallup and Healthways began tracking. The obesity rate has increased across almost all demographic groups.

Those who are actively disengaged at work are more likely to smoke: Eighteen percent of actively disengaged workers — those who are emotionally disconnected from their jobs — light up vs. 15% of other workers. Bonus finding: Workers who smoke cost the U.S. economy $278 billion annually.

Female veterans have a more optimistic life outlook: Female veterans of the U.S. military have a much more optimistic outlook on their lives than their male counterparts do. Female veterans\’ future life ratings are similar to those of women in the general U.S. population, but male veterans\’ ratings trail behind other men\’s ratings.

Heart attacks hit women harder, emotionally speaking: American women who say they have had a heart attack at some point in their lives have an average Emotional Health Index score that is eight points lower than the average score among women who have not had a heart attack. In comparison, the average Emotional Health Index score among men who have had a heart attack is four points lower than it is among men who have not.

Depression rate drops in areas hardest hit by Sandy: One year after Superstorm Sandy, reports of clinical depression among those living in the hardest hit areas have mostly recovered to levels seen before the storm. But reports of anger in the most affected areas have increased. Bonus finding: More residents smoke and fewer eat healthily than before the storm.

Income more to blame for obesity than food deserts: In a first-of-its-kind study exploring the relationship between adult obesity and food deserts, Gallup found that lack of access to grocery stores alone doesn\’t matter in terms of obesity; it only matters when Americans also have low incomes. But being low-income is associated with higher obesity rates, regardless of access to food.

Engaged employees have a healthier lifestyle: Employees who are engaged at work are more likely to report eating healthier, exercising more frequently, and consuming more fruits and vegetables than workers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged.

Single-parent households struggle more to afford food: Thirty-one percent of single-parent households said there were times in the past 12 months when they struggled to afford food, compared with 19% two-parent households. Younger parents and parents with three or more children also had more trouble affording food at times.

Among U.S. workers, lack of exercise is linked more to obesity than eating habits: Exercising fewer than three days a week is more closely linked to U.S. workers being obese than any of 26 other behavioral factors, including healthy eating. This held true even while controlling for age, ethnicity, race, marital status, gender, income, education, region, and religiosity.

via Gallup’s Top 10 U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2013.

Filed under: Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Death and Dying, Happy New Year!!! From The Policy ThinkShop, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform

In U.S., Less Than Half Look at Restaurant Nutrition Facts | Gallup Poll

The Policy ThinkShop is expanding its policy analysis and research resources in response to the current  healthcare reform challenges faced by the states and communities.  We will be posting periodic articles and resources addressing the numerous variables that define the nation’s current healthcare challenges which go well beyond putting a health insurance card in a person’s hand.

Visit our health policy and research blog at:

http://healththinkshop.com

for more health specific resources and to share with us which areas of health you want us to address for your daily health administration, policy and planning needs.

The restaurant industry can be seen as fitting into a continuum.  At one extreme are the restaurants that focus on providing easy to make menus, easy to store foods, easy to please customers.  By easy to please we might mean people who are looking for the basic satisfying elements producing the classic “addictive” flavors from sweets, salts and fatty foods.  At the other extreme, difficult to call it “extreme” since it is probably the more reasonable in terms of healthy lifestyle, there is the fresh vegetables, fish and light fowl, moderately portioned cuisine  served in prestigious and select culinary establishments for the educated palate.  Home cooking has historical and culturally embedded positive meaning in our culture but truth be told most home cooking is not very healthy either…  In this case, it probably goes outside our initial restaurant continuum because cooking at home requires skill, time and appropriate ingredients.  Of course, in the available ingredients we find the most difficult challenge.  Keeping fresh vegetables, fish and fowl on hand is to often cumbersome and expensive.  Although budget is often the decisive factor here, time, a more universally unavailable commodity, is often the thing that makes or breaks home cooking.

Aside from the mechanics, logistics and administrative aspects of culinary efficacy there is, perhaps equally decisive as time, health literacy.   That is, knowledge of the relationship between food and health.  That is not the only aspect of health literacy but it just as well aught to be.  According to the Gallop Poll, knowledge about what we eat is woefully missing in the American culinary mind.

The Policy ThinkShop is expanding its policy analysis and research resources in response to the current  healthcare reform challenges faced by the states and communities.  We will be posting periodic articles and resources addressing the numerous variables that define the nation’s current healthcare challenges which go well beyond putting a health insurance card in a person’s hand.

Visit our health policy and research blog at:

http://healththinkshop.com

for more health specific resources and to share with us which areas of health you want us to address for your daily health administration, policy and planning needs.

“Even as more U.S. restaurants list nutritional information on their menus, less than half of Americans, 43%, say they pay a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of attention to it. Americans are much more likely to take note of nutritional labels on food packages, with 68% saying they pay at least a fair amount of attention to this …”

via In U.S., Less Than Half Look at Restaurant Nutrition Facts.

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Medicaid, Medicaid Expansion, Medical Research, Medicare, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Public Health, Public Policy, , , , ,

High Blood Sugar Linked to Dementia – NYTimes.com

Sugar, salt and animal fat (mostly cholesterol) are the mainstay of the American diet.   These three main ingredients are omnipresent–avoiding them is nearly impossible.

As the baby boomers reach their golden years, especially in the aftermath of the recent deep and long recession, the retirement years will be lean for millions of them.  Lean in terms of resources and lean in terms of access to lean and healthy foods which are usually more expensive, harder to cook or keep in the fridge and requiring more frequent shopping as vegetables and fruits do not keep well on the counter or in the fridge.

Behavioral health, lifestyle and diet will have a much greater impact than so called healthcare reform and access to health insurance will.  Health insurance gets you medical care, in a system that is not proactive nor preventive.  The danger is that we will not change our health habits and that access to health care will only mean greater utilization of services…   Indeed,  the baby boomers will be a tremendous cost to the healthcare system and their Rock and Roll attitude may not bode well for their aging lifestyle and healthcare risk.

“People with diabetes face an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, a connection scientists and physicians have worried about for …”

via High Blood Sugar Linked to Dementia – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: ACA and Medicaid, access to education, Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, consumers, Culture Think, Demographic Change, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, , , ,

How Exercise Changes Fat and Muscle Cells – NYTimes.com

As we age and become more sedentary, our muscles atrophy.   This leads to an unhealthy cycle that reduces our ability to burn calories, etc.  Better understanding how exercise helps us to build and maintain muscle can help us prioritize our need for exercise above other competing tasks that eat up our day and leave us stressed and tired at bedtime.

The next time you think about being too tired to exercise, think about how beneficial exercise is and how it will pay you back in more muscle and energy which you need to live strong.

“Exercise promotes health, reducing most people’s risks of developing diabetes and growing obese. But just how, at a cellular level, exercise performs this beneficial …”

via How Exercise Changes Fat and Muscle Cells – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, News, Public Health, , , , , ,

Disease and death in America: A poor bill of health | The Economist

Health insurance coverage to help you fix decades of high cholesterol will probably not save your life.  This is the problem that America faces as it is found to be sick because of health behaviors it does not want to change.  We have the freedom to act very unhealthy and to get sick.  How much will increasing insurance coverage really improve our health?

“THE Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, faces an immediate problem. The deadline for its insurance expansion is January 1st, but each week brings some new obstacle. Even if Obamacare overcomes these, a long-term challenge will remain: the law may not improve Americans’ health. And that health is dismal, as illuminated in vivid new detail on July 10th.

Christopher Murray and his colleagues at the University of Washington have new research on which ailments plague Americans, and why. Dr Murray is due to present his findings at the White House; his main paper is also published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. As health reform moves forward, he reports that Americans are living longer, but are sicker, and that the numbers …”

More via Disease and death in America: A poor bill of health | The Economist.

Filed under: Aging, Blogosphere, consumers, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, News, Public Health, Public Policy, , , ,

Healing the Overwhelmed Physician – or Rescuing healthcare practice from the solo provider?

Individualism, the heroic individual, the leader, the father, the head of an organization and Norman Rockwell’s idilic physician all have one thing in common: the increasingly untenable belief that individualist leadership is the optimal form of guidance and decision making to meet our collective or individual needs.

Enter the case of the solo physician trying to navigate the increasingly complex internal and external realms of his/her medical practice.

The variables under consideration regarding an individual’s health status, those variables needed to understand the internal medical practice resources involved in assessing that status, those variables involved in the dynamics of the outside world of lifestyle and behavior causing or maintaining that status, and, perhaps more importantly, the complex healthcare system supporting the physician and the patient’s experience addressing the numerous communicative, behavioral and resource utilization issues involved in addressing that health status are as complex and exhausting as this very sentence.

Such is the healthcare system today.  Hard to argue that we have not made progress from the days of low life expectancy, high child mortality and when, by today’s standards, low level infections caused serious health problems and even death.

The problem today seems much more complex and overwhelming as healthcare knowhow has become an information management problem.  Computers and medical records do not seem to be helping much yet and the individualism involved in our national culture of choice and personal control seems to be militating against group progress.

The NYTs published a worthwhile article to get us thinking on this topic.  The Policy ThinkShop recommends reading it and further discussion–discussion we can continue here at your Public Policy Blog …

“We physicians are susceptible to a kind of medical Stendhal syndrome as we confront the voluminous evidence about the clinical choices we face every day. It would take dozens of hours each week for a conscientious primary care doctor to read everything he or she needed in order to …”

via Healing the Overwhelmed Physician – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: access to education, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Death and Dying, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, News, Public Health, Public Policy, , , , , ,

How RunKeeper Plans To Make The World a Healthier Place

Do you remember when you got your first calculator and how that made math so different?  Today we have gadgets that connect with smartphones and deliver an incredible experience filled with data, GPS information and social media opportunities–all connected to our heart beat, our movements tracked in real time via GPS and our motivation.

Workouts are transformed by being connected to information about our body that can be shared with friends and family.

Wow!  The following is one such technology …

“RunKeeper dramatically affects the way many people around the world stay healthy, and has plans to do a whole lot more. Available for iOS and Android, the mobile app lets you track your workouts, and then share your fitness achievements everywhere from …”

via How RunKeeper Plans To Make The World a Healthier Place.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Social Media, , ,

Medication vs. stents for heart disease treatment – Harvard Health Publications

What’s the best way to “fix” a narrowed coronary artery? That question was the crux of a multimillion-dollar trial dubbed COURAGE, short for Clinical Outcomes Utilizing Revascularization and Aggressive Drug Evaluation. Its results, presented in the spring of 2007, stunned some doctors and seemed to shock the media, but we hope they won’t come as a surprise to readers: For people with stable coronary artery disease (clogged arteries nourishing the heart), artery-opening angioplasty was no better than medications and lifestyle changes at preventing future heart attacks or strokes, nor did it extend life.

via Medication vs. stents for heart disease treatment – Harvard Health Publications.

Filed under: Aging, Blogosphere, consumers, Death and Dying, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Medical Research, News

States’ Policies on Health Care Exclude Poorest – NYTimes.com

It is dumbfounding!   It paralyzes the brain, the heart and almost all hope–without need for audacity.

Ph.D.s, advocates, health professionals, and good old moms and dads come to the agreement that healthcare needs changing and that sick people should get help–especially those who have difficulty getting it.  Presumably, it is logical and reasonable to think that many of these people are what we, all of us for hundreds of years, have called “the poor.”

Yet for as long as there have been those with and those without, those with often have the efficacy to get more and those without, perhaps by definition, get even less–always…

So here we are well into healthcare reform and the NYT is sounding the whistle on the haves once again–millions have been spent and the poor are somehow invisible once again when it comes to targeting the needs of those who are hurting and are having a difficult time getting good, reliable, continuos, patient centered, medical home care!  Go figure… or better yet, go read the New York times…

“The refusal by about half the states to expand Medicaid will leave millions of poor people ineligible for government-subsidized health insurance under President Obama’s health care law even as many others with higher incomes receive federal subsidies to …”

More via States’ Policies on Health Care Exclude Poorest – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, consumers, Death and Dying, Economic Recession, Feminization of Poverty, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Maternal and Child Health, Medical Research, Medicare, News, Parenting, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Public Health, Public Policy, Public Service, WeSeeReason, , ,

Could Statins Raise Diabetes Risk? – WebMD

Drugs have serious, and sometimes fatal, side effects and too often unintended consequences.  But we are sick, and health professionals somehow perform a cost benefit analysis and risk assessment and recommend that we take this drug or that to help us deal with our health condition or else.

Medicine is evolving, medicines are just one variable in a complex medical intervention process and people simply do not behave well or as needed very often.

Like variables that are introduced to repair a broken swiss watch, drugs enter our body system and fix some things yet disturb others.

Medical interventions, as drug therapies, change our blood chemistry and many of the vital functions of our major organs and personal health processes in some way…

As our body systems and organs fail under the weight of heredity, diet, behavior, etc., scientists perform research and through trial and error attempt to produce substances that can be introduced into our sick body systems to address a needed substance or desired cause and effect to make us better.

Our lives and bodies are similar, so research  has some success, in a controlled experiment, showing that symptoms can be changed or controlled.  However, implementing these medical solutions in the daily routine of our unique yet complex lives is another story.

Diet, exercise and behavior in general are also modified when we become sick and our body changes due to powerful drugs we are advised to take.

As each of us goes through life experiencing disease, we benefit from therapies, if we are “lucky” enough to have access to them, in varying ways.

“Certain statins — the widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs — may increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.

The risk was greatest for patients taking atorvastatin (brand name Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor), the study said.

Focusing on almost 500,000 Ontario residents, researchers …”

More via Could Statins Raise Diabetes Risk? – WebMD.

Filed under: Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Cancer Treatment & Success, consumers, Death and Dying, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Medical Research, Medicare, News, Public Health, , , , , , , ,

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