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Latest Posts

H1N1 Flu Vaccine: The Bottom Line

If you’re a bit confused about the H1N1 vaccine recommendations, you are in good company! They are a bit confusing because this year’s flu season is a bit confusing. To add insult to injury, the recommendations for H1N1 are just similar and dissimilar enough from “seasonal flu”, Influenza A&B, that sorting it out can make your head spin and your tongue get tied.

Kim Carrigan and I attempted to clear the air about this challenging topic recently on Fox News Boston…as you’ll see, I even got tripped up once, so don’t feel badly if you’re a bit confused!

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*This blog post was originally published at DrGwenn Is In*

Facebook: The School Reunion That Never Ends

CNN posted today that “Facebook is as large as the US Population.” That’s a lot of computers connecting in a lot of homes and communities all over the world but at what cost?

None to Facebook. They announced today they are finally making money.

But what about to us and our kids? Are we paying a price for being so socially networked?

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*This blog post was originally published at DrGwenn Is In*

Why Healthcare Reform Isn’t Going To Work

In a recent interview with Dr. Oz on Good Morning America, Dr. Oz told Diane Sawyer that he doesn’t think any of the proposed health care plans will work. Why? As Dr. Oz told Diane:

“What we haven’t done is get to the very root reality of the flaws we have in the health care system. True health care reform cannot happen in Washington. It has to happen in our kitchens, in our homes, in our communities. All health care is personal.”

Dr. Oz pointed out that the United States has twice the disease that is found in Europe. He believes that we have to find it impossible for Americans to not embrace good health. According to Dr. Oz:

“If I make your workplace conducive to walking at lunch, or working out at some time during the day, or I get people to use the stairs more by creating incentives to do such, then people will start doing it naturally.”

All you have to do is walk around any place USA compared to anywhere else around the globe to know this is true. Or, just note our friends from around the world who are visiting our country on vacation. Striking how much healthier our friends from other parts of the world appear – and act. They seem more vibrant, have more energy.

For these reasons, Dr. Oz isn’t hopeful any of the healthcare reform plans will work. He feels that until people start living more healthy, how the health care system is paid for is really moot. In his words: “The big debate right now in Washington is health care finance. It’s how are you going to pay for it. I don’t care which program we pick. I’ll tell you why. Because none of them are going to work.”

The sad truth is, he’s right. Americans have shown themselves to be very untrustworthy on the health care front with heeding doctors warnings about healthy living. Until that changes, until we find a way to make healthy living more appealing, how the system is paid for isn’t the path to reform.

After listening to President Obama last night, where does that leave us? No where useful. Sure…he talked a good talk about the insurance changes needed for the economics of the system to work but that has nothing at all to do with the true reforms needed in our system for not only personal health care but the actual ability to practice medicine, a topic the President barely covered last night.

I felt President Obama did an adequate job calming the waters of the misconceptions of the bill he is trying to put forward but let’s not mistaken that bill for the type of true health reform our country will need in the end. That type of reform, as Dr. Oz, pointed out, has to come from within each of us and the start of that may be as simple as looking in the mirror and accepting more individual responsibility for our own bodies and what happens to them.

What about savings, you ask? If we all care for our bodies better, we’ll all save by saving ourselves the time and expense of doctor’s visits, prescriptions, procedures, operations, and treatments of all kinds. Those savings will not only be in dollars to our bank account but years to our lives. Doesn’t sound too bad, huh?

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

H1N1 Flu and Back to School: Focus on Prevention

It used to be that we’d get all our kids settled back to school and then enjoy a bit of a pause before the other shoe fell with the inevitable concern over another flu season. With Swine Flu, Influenza H1N1 not taking a summer vacation and showing no signs of letting up, we didn’t have that luxury this year.

I went onto My Fox Boston this morning and talked with Keba Arnold about this very unique flu season with 2 influenza strains traveling among us and offered some practical tips to not only prevent the flu but be ready should it impact your town’s schools:

Don’t try and absorb everything at once. Focus on prevention today and I’ll help keep you informed as we learn more about the flu shots your family will need, when they will be available, and any breaking CDC alerts that are important for your family’s well being during the flu season.

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

Most Teens Know How To Be Healthy, And Falsely Believe They Are Healthy

Nielson Wire yesterday posted a summary of a Scarborough Research study that may surprise you. According to the study, teens actually know what “being healthy” means. As reported by Nielson Wire, “92 percent percent of teens aged 13-17 say that health and a healthy lifestyle are important and when asked to give themselves a “health report card,” 76 percent of teens gave a grade of B- or higher.”

Also of interest in the report is where teens get their health information. As opposed to using social networking, as we’d expect them to do given how important a role it plays in their lives, teens turn to parents first and then true internet searches second.

(source: Nielson Wire as seen in Scarborough Research report)

I don’t doubt that on some level our teens know they need to live a healthier lifestyle and desire to do so. But, all we have to do is look around any of our towns to know the majority of our teens are not living they healthy life…not yet. So, why the discrepancy? What needs to happen to help teens live the healthy life they desire?

The discrepancy may have a few root causes:

1. Unhealthy families: many of these kids have parents with weight issues…the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree so they may not be getting the encouragement to “live healthy”.
2. Lack of time for true exercise – while many teens are in sports, sports participation isn’t the same as true exercise and many kids don’t burn the calories many parents think they are burning.
3. Not knowing how to be more healthy.
4. The hurried child syndrome where childhood has become so busy there isn’t time for proper meals.
5. Not understanding their own bodies unique nutritional needs. The needs of a growing teen are different than they were when they were younger kids, especially as growth slows down. Our teens need help learning to eat more like adults and to eat in moderation and with the concept of “balance”. This will only happen if we lead by example and also have open conversations with them about food. This will also only happen if we serve food they enjoy eating!

How can we help our teens live the healthy life they desire?

1. Talk to your teen and really listen! Find out how your teen wants to eat and exercise. A friendly world of warning…it may differ from your own views but if that is how your teen wants to be healthy, help your teen with that goal because the teen years are the start of the eating and exercise paths for life.
2. Lead by example. Look honestly at how you eat and exercise and do what you need to to be more healthy.
3. Slow down the pace of the family week so there is time for family dinner each and every day.
4. Get every one in the kitchen cooking. I’ll be writing a lot more on this as the year goes on but I can tell you that a family who cooks together, becomes more healthy together!
5. Have your teen help you with the weekly family menu planning.
6. Consider a gym if you can afford it…teens love working with trainers and joining classes. Most communities have programs that are very affordable as do the local YMCAs.
7. Don’t by the junk if your teen asks you not to…that’s like having cigarette packs on the table when someone is trying to quit smoking.
8. Keep healthy snacks around such as fruit, veggie sticks, granola bars.
9. Talk to your pediatrician and address any medical issues if there are any that may be interfering with becoming more active.
10. Be encouraging!

The teenage years are when our teens are supposed to spread their wings and amaze us. If good health is where their wings are trying to take them, then our job is to hop on that path and tackle any obstacle in their way.

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

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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