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Larry King Researches Healthcare Reform At Better Health

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I was glad to see that my recent interview with Tommy Thompson was referenced by Larry King in his opening remarks on healthcare reform with Elizabeth Edwards. My friend Eric Kuhn at CNN kindly offered me the video to embed here on my blog… The Better Health reference is at minute 1:08. I was also asked to submit a blog post to Larry King’s blog, so stay tuned for that! As I have always maintained – medblogs are upstream of mainstream!

Social Media: A Fad Or Here To Stay?

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Is social media a fad? Watch this video and come to your own conclusions:

Thanks to Marian Swan from Linked In’s Social Media and Health Care group for circulating this around as seen on UnMarketing Blog.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Gwenn Is In*

Dara Torres, Abdominal Muscles, And An Olympic Work Ethic

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This week’s CBS Doc Dot Com features 42-year-old Dara Torres, who has been in five Olympics and won every kind of medal a swimmer can win. She juggles motherhood (her 3-year-old daughter, Tessa, is a gold medalist in being cute), a career, and philanthropy. And to top it off, as she proudly displayed during my interview with her, she has serious abs – world class.

But it wasn’t her abs that impressed me the most. Not nearly. It was the pride she took in her work. She understands that there’s no free lunch, that every one of her achievements has been paved by hard work and attention to detail.

I am always moved by a person who rolls up their sleeves, committed to doing a good job – whatever that job is. When I first started dating my wife, Kate, I took her to one of my favorite Italian restaurants. As we sat at our table, I suddenly saw her eyes well up with tears. She explained that she had been observing a bus boy carefully set a large, round table across from us. Seconds from finishing, he had noticed a small stain on the tablecloth. Rather than hide the spot by covering it up, he had painstakingly removed everything, replaced the tablecloth, and begun setting the table again. She was touched by his work ethic and I by her sensitivity and powers of observation.

Ponzi schemers may hog the headlines but I’ll bet most people still believe in the value of an honest day’s work.

Which brings us back to Dara Torres’ abdominal muscles. They didn’t just appear. She swims for two hours every morning and then does about seventy five minutes of core exercises. The take-home lesson from Dara Torres isn’t about her abs; it’s about the work ethic that lies beneath them.

Click here for the video of Dara Torres discussing how she’s kept fit physically and mentally after turning forty.

Click here for Dara’s blog about her priorities now that the World Championships are over.

Also check out her new book: “Age Is Just A Number“.

Learn how you could win a chance to meet Dara Torres in the “BP Younger for Longer Challenge.”

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A Touching Story: The Camp That Embraces Obese Teens

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For this week’s episode of CBS Doc Dot Com, I went back to camp.  OK, it wasn’t my camp – Camp Algonquin in Argyle, New York – now defunct, where I spent many an idyllic summer growing up.  It was Camp Shane in Ferndale, New York, listed on their website as “The original, longest running weight loss camp in the world” at 41 years and counting.

This is a tough time to be overweight or obese.  Last week the Centers for Disease Control announced that obesity-related diseases account for 147 billion dollars in medical costs every year in the United States.

About a quarter of Americans are obese and two thirds are either obese or overweight.  Over the past twenty years, obesity in teenagers has increased from 5 percent to almost 18 percent. Obese children and adolescents are more likely to become obese adults.  Which brings us back to Camp Shane.

I spent an hour talking to about a dozen kids ranging from ages 11 to 17 who had been gathered into a group by Camp owner David Ettenberg and his wife, Zipora.  They came in all shapes and sizes but shared a common sentiment – they felt safe at camp, surrounded by people who accepted them for who they were.  It brought tears to my eyes to hear how supportive they were of each other, how open they were about their emotions and fears.

In school other kids often mocked them.  There’s no way that would be tolerated at camp – not just by the staff but, more importantly, by the campers.  “We’re all in this together,” one boy offered.  A girl added, “It’s a safe zone for us.” A teenage girl said “You can wear a bikini without being made fun of.” I asked, “What would happen if you wore a bikini at home?” She answered, “You’d most likely get made fun of and like pushed in a pool.  Ah ha, you’re fat.”

A boy told me that kids at his school would ask him, “‘Why are you so massive?’  And like usually I’d just laugh it off but sometimes it does get a little annoying.  I’m like, how long until I get back to camp?”

The kids all said they had lost varying amounts of weight at camp through portion control and exercise, a program supervised by pediatrician Dr. Joanna Dolgoff.  The challenge has been trying to stay on track once they leave camp and return home.

If they can do it at camp, they can do it at home.  But not without the support of parents and schools who have been educated about how to help their children make healthy choices.  My good friend, Dr. Mehmet Oz, has launched a wonderful organization called HealthCorps “to help stem the crisis of child obesity through school-based health education and mentoring, as well as community events and outreach to underserved populations.”  Click here to see the HealthCorps website.

Click here to see this week’s CBS Doc Dot Com about my trip to Camp Shane.

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Video: Healthcare Reform: Putting Patients First

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Better Health bloggers from across the country participated in a historic discussion about healthcare reform at the National Press Club on July 17th, 2009. I managed to condense a 3 hour event into a 4 minute video… for those of you who were unable to make it, here’s my highlight reel… Thanks to Freddie Dorn at Picture This Video for helping to create it!

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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