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Latest Posts

The Obesity Crisis: How It’s Like The Mortgage Crisis

Q. What’s the difference between a public health expert and an incompetent doctor?
A. An incompetent doctor tends to kill only one person at a time.

The deep recession and jobless “recovery” which we have enjoyed in the U.S. for going on three years now was triggered by the bursting of the housing bubble. The housing bubble was created by lending practices that awarded “subprime” mortgages to people with bad credit ratings, and offered to people with good credit ratings adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) that enticed them to purchase more expensive homes than they could afford.

Traditionally, banks were always reluctant to award mortgages, of any flavor, to people who obviously could not afford them, since doing so would wreck their businesses. The reason the banks began making bad loans in the 1990s is that new government policies, chiefly the Community Reinvestment Act, strongly “encouraged” them to.

The banks, being businesses, reacted logically to the new regulatory climate, to threats by ACORN and other activist groups, and to the escape hatch opened for them by the government which allowed them to turn over their toxic mortgages immediately to Fanny and Freddie. Banks quickly began turning out as many questionable mortgages as they could write, to as many uncreditworthy individuals as they could find. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Covert Rationing Blog*

The Twinkie Diet

“Hey…where did those cupcakes go?”

Like a never-ending western North Carolina climb where each switchback reveals another uphill, and the finish is shielded by tall pines, the struggle to lose weight and to stay lean is incessant.

In wrestling weight gain, competitive cyclists share the same mat as “regular” Americans. Like jockeys, all competitive bike racers strive for maximal leanness. It’s physics: Weigh less and the same number of watts push you farther and faster, especially when going uphill or accelerating from a slow speed. Remember those velocity problems in Physics 101?

But is it conceivable that losing weight — even if accompanied by lower cholesterol levels — could be detrimental to long-term wellness? Obviously, the question answers itself.

Unless your Internet connection has been interrupted in the last few days, you have probably heard of the “Twinkle diet.” Kansas State University nutrition professor Mark Haub tested the hypothesis that if he reduced his daily calorie consumption from 2600 to 1800 he would lose weight. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Healthy And Fit Without Ruining Your Life?

I consider myself a relatively fit person. Of course, “relatively” is still relative. I try to watch what I eat. I usually exercise five days a week. Heck, I’ve even run a couple half-marathons. But the rest of my days are pretty much sedentary. I sit in a climate-controlled office staring at my computer screen. I make dinner in my highly-automated kitchen. After dinner I sit in the living room sipping wine and watching TV or talking to Greta. Then I go to bed and start the process over again.

That’s not a whole lot of activity for a creature that evolved for endurance. Over a 50 mile course, a race between a man and a horse can be quite competitive. Millions of people all over the world do hard manual labor day in and day out. But millions of others don’t set aside any time for exercise. In my half-marathons, I’ve finished in the top half of competitors, so compared to a lot of people, I must be doing something right. Right? Or do my sedentary days outweigh my occasional bursts of activity? I exercise an average of 4 hours per week. That’s less than 4 percent of my total waking time. Is that really enough to stay fit? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Daily Monthly*

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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