The Nation's Health + [Hospitals]

Hospitals: What you need is an expert in health!

Where can you find an expert in health?

In my experience, they're hard--very hard--to find.

Your hospital? Certainly not the hospitals I know. The hospitals I know are experts in disease, but not in health. Hospitals are helpful when you're sick. But if you're well and would like to stay that way, there's no reason to hang around a hospital. Prevent cancer, prevent heart disease, stay well? There's no place for this conversation in a hospital.

In fact, hospital staff are among the most unhealthy people I come across. Obesity is a nationwide problem affecting millions of Americans. But it's especially a problem among people who work in hospitals. I shudder in horror when I go to a hospital cafeteria and witness the sorts of food they serve in hospitals and see what the staff eat. Should they be regarded as experts in health?

How about doctors? If you associate with physicians like the ones I know, most have lots of knowledge about disease, but little understanding of health. A rare one has insight and interest in health.

I went to a recent meeting with my cardiology colleagues. Food served: pizza, Coca-Cola, spaghetti, fried onion rings, white bread with butter. They all dug in without hesitation. Over half were miserably overweight. Several were, in fact, diabetic; several more, pre-diabetic. I know that at least several are smokers. Experts in health?

Drug companies? Well, they're interested in health only as far as it provides profits. But health for its own sake? Ask anybody from a drug manufacturer about their views on the nutritional supplement movement and watch them sneer.

Food manufacturers? You mean like Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Nabisco, and General Mills? How about fast-food operations like McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and KFC?

The message: Know where to look for genuine information on health. You won't get it from hospitals. You won't get it from drug company marketing. For the most part, you can't even get it from your physician.

Instead, you're going to witness a broad movement towards self-empowerment in health, fueled by the internet and services like ours (Track Your Plaque). These are information resources that are not driven by profit, intent on providing truth, and not afraid to reject prevailing views.

It does not mean that hospitals are unnecessary, or that food manufacturers are evil, or that fast food should be legislated out of existence. We live in a capitalistic society, driven by supply and demand. Hopefully, demand is borne from educated choices from informed consumers. That's where information that's reliable, credible, and not profit driven come in.