Health Literacy – Not “Feeling” It?

health-literacy

Bernadette Keefe MD

Health Literacy – It’s still not catching on.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines health literacy as

“the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions”.

 As a believer in improved general literacy for citizens, I have assumed that health literacy, achieved through quality health information, having been easily accessed and well understood, would be akin to the process of general literacy. But just as education involves more than the conveyance of information, it is similar for achieving health literacy.

Although considerable efforts have been made regarding the formulation and dissemination of health and self-care information, we are seeing little effect on health outcomes. All parameters of health and wellness in the U.S. remain stubbornly poor, including the high incidence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental health, and addiction. Healthcare systems and healthcare professionals continue to tout patient engagement strategies and the importance of health literacy, but as Michael Friedman states in his excellent piece on the topic:

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{Ultra}Processed Food: Too Sexy for Our Own Good?

FrenchFries

Bernadette Keefe MD

“If we are what we do and what we eat, we’re potatoes: couched and fried.” – Ellen Goodman, Wall Street Journal

Introduction

Fast Food has a rich and storied history. In Roman times, through the middle ages, fast food, sold by venders, was a necessity, as many dwellings had no kitchen.

The British “Fish ‘N Chips” was popularized in the mid-1800s by coastal towns that needed to service the large trawling industry. The undisputed King of the Fast Food Industry, however, is the United States. With the introduction of the automobile in the early 1900s, there was ever greater access to fast-cook restaurant fare. America fell in love with “White Castle” hamburgers; the rest is history. America has the largest fast food industry, and, has peppered the world’s landscape with Subway, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Wendy’s among others, whose outlets can be found in over 100 countries.

Due to its worldwide dominance of the Fast Food Industry, U.S. citizens are particularly immersed in the fast food culture, and sadly have “drunk the cool-aid”. While this essay addresses the effects of fast food and other ultra-processed food in America, similar consequences are occurring around the globe.

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The Power and The Glory of Walking

walking-image

Introduction  

Walking

Definition: to move at a regular and fairly slow pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, never having both feet off the ground at once.-

Synonyms:  stroll, saunter, amble, trudge, plod, dawdle, hike, tramp, tromp, slog, stomp, trek, march, stride, sashay, glide, troop, patrol, wander, ramble, tread, prowl, promenade, roam, traipse

Wikipedia

“What if a simple act could change the world?” – Born to Walk: The Transformative Power of the Pedestrian Life

Born to Walk – Trailer

Walking for Health 

The U.S. Surgeon General regularly announces public health campaigns, “Calls to Action”, which are deemed particularly important for the overall health of the nation. A “Call to Action” is defined as “a science-based document to stimulate action nationwide to solve a major public health problem”.

For 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy chose walking as the focus, when he announced the ‘Step It Up’ campaign. The ‘Step It Up’ campaign was designed to promote walking and walkable communities. Here is the video which accompanied the launch:

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Sports/American Football & Concussions – A Love/Hate Bond

Bernadette Keefe M.D.

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Introduction 

“If just 10% of the mothers in this country think that football is a dangerous sport, then that is the end of football” – The NFL 

The sports of American football, European football (U.S. soccer), ice hockey (a Canadian favorite), wrestling, lacrosse, and field hockey, among others, are associated with a significant risk of concussions. In the early 2000s, investigations of early, untimely deaths of several retired National Football League (NFL) players, showed similar microscopic findings in their brains. With this discovery, the disease of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), associated with multiple concussions on the football field, was introduced to the world.

Concussion, The Movie

League of Denial, The Documentary 

“You’re going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week! “

Two books, one feature film and one television documentary have been released recounting the story of Dr. Bennett Omalu, the man who linked characteristic brain abnormalities, which he later named chronic traumatic encephalopathy, to the progressive dementia and erratic behavior in the pro-football players he studied. Countless scientific articles have been written, and the issue of traumatic brain injury in contact sports has now become front-page news. 

Concussion Movie Trailer 

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In Brief, Football: The History, The Violence, The Grace/Beauty

1rst-intercollef-football-1876-Yale-Vs-PrincetonBernadette Keefe M.D.

Introduction -The Passion, The Inquiry

The Golden Game, the game that decides the 2016 National Football League (NFL) champion, will be played in Santa Clara, California, on Sunday February 7, before a stadium audience of 68,000 and a U.S. television audience likely surpassing 110 million (private TV sets).

Football is immensely popular in the United States. For many, it is a favorite past time and, is often dubbed America’s sport. Football is also big business, with tentacles reaching into two massive empires: media, through TV networks such as ESPN, and gambling, from Las Vegas back rooms to online Fantasy Football websites such as FanDuel and Draftkings.

Notably, football is a particularly violent game, one in which brute strength is as important as skill. The over-riding mission is to destroy/nullify opposing players who stand in the way of ball possession and goals. Injury is common in the sport, and can be severe.

As a Carolina Panthers fan, but also a physician, the violence in football has always been unnerving. For me, the sport’s allure is in the many graceful, athletic moves, especially the leaping, and reaching. For many others, however, it’s the cold, hard violence that thrills. As a prelude to my larger post on football, to be released later this weekend, I wanted to delve into the roots of the sport, and ask: Was football always so violent?

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Time to Decouple Fear and Health

FearBlog?

Bernadette Keefe M.D.

“Pseudo-dangers represent further opportunities to avoid problems we do not wish to confront….” – Barry Glassner, The Culture of Fear

Introduction

For a while now, I’ve been concerned about the increasing role that fear has played as a tactic in persuading patients to choose certain treatments in healthcare, and to adopt certain habits. Fear is also, often a dominant driver for patients in their health decision-making process.

Fear, however, is an unwanted distraction when making decisions. In contrast to a calm state of mind, it creates added anxiety and stress, in a citizenry already burdened with increasing stressors. How can adding to this be constructive, or further, even moral? How can healthcare decisions, made from fear, be in any way conducive to optimal health outcomes, or conducive to sustainable well-being throughout our lifespans? 
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Fireside Chats – A Celebration of Self Care and Care for Each Other

fireside-chats-dining-table

Bernadette Keefe MD

A Holiday Post that translates to any gathering with loved ones ~ BK

The Path to Wellness

‘Tis the season of celebration. As we are in a festive month, I’d like to talk about a few celebratory health related ‘fireside chats’ that we might consider when we gather with our families and friends this holiday season. Conversations around health and healthcare are often avoided as they can invite a difficult mixture of bad news, fear, criticism, advice, or unwanted cajoling. I’d like to flip these chats towards celebration by identifying four major things in life that are both good for us, and are, at essence, a cause for celebration.

For this post on holiday “fireside chats; a celebration of self-care”, I chose four major topics to delve into: emotional health, physical exercise, food and food culture and the circle of life. Included within are videos, text and references that I hope hone in on the essence of self care, and the process of creating healthy lives for ourselves, and our loved ones.

Let’s celebrate the role of self-care in the lives of ourselves, our families, and our friends!

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