If you want to be a beautiful writer, not wanting to connect your illness to your brilliance is nearly impossible.
Anorexia, the Impossible Subject
Catching up on my RSS, seeing these two from Marginal Revolution in close succession caught my attention. I had no idea:
Suicides outnumber homicides in the United States by 3:1.
Prescription painkillers now kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined, according to the CDC.
:( Take care.
No one thought Joe Theismann was soft for leaving the game when his leg was hanging sideways. Sometimes the brain goes sideways, and when that happens, “brave” or “cowardly” shouldn’t even come into it. Seeking help is just the practical thing to do.
Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin, and the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal – Grantland
Billions of dollars have poured into the continent to fight killer diseases. But the most basic killer, injury, is neglected.
I have never once thought about this before.
Africa’s Trauma Epidemic
Part of what makes obesity a wicked problem is how existing solutions — farmers markets, anti-corporate marketing — led advocates to frame the problem in particular ways. “The picture painted by advocates of grocery stores and gardens in the inner city was compelling to so many in no small part because it combined an established way of thinking about poor neighborhoods as materially deprived along with rising cultural support from middle-class Americans for eating healthier, locally grown foods,” Lee writes.
So we’re debunking “food deserts” now. More from Jacob Geller, I thought this was a useful way to think about it:
What I think is going on in America is that if someone really does want to eat healthy — and they know how to — then they will eat healthy, but huge numbers of Americans “choose” not to. The cost and the distance don’t much matter. And I put “choose” in air quotes, because people are not “choosing” per se, rather they are hooked. They buy sugar instead of broccoli, because sugar tastes awesome and goes with everything, whereas broccoli is gross. The deck is physiologically stacked in favor of sugar. The cost and the distance are virtual non-factors for most Americans, outliers notwithstanding, and obesity really does need to be tackled aggressively on the demand side, if at all possible, precisely because distance and cost are virtual non-factors.
The economist’s way of saying the same thing is that unhealthy foods (like sugar) tend to be sort of addictive, or habit-forming, or are at least advantaged by our physiology or biology, so our demand for that food tends to be pretty insensitive to price (or “inelastic”). And because our demand is insensitive to price, shifting the supply curve one way or the other isn’t going to change the quantity consumed all that much. You can fiddle with the supply curve all you like, but the problem is ultimately that this inelastic demand curve is keeping quantity consumed stuck more or less in the same place. So from a public policy and public health standpoint, it’s better to just tackle the demand curve, by shifting it leftward or making it less inelastic, through solid health education curricula or forming good eating habits during childhood, or whatever, if possible.
The Ecology of Obesity | Newgeography.com
Stuck in their habits, most adults shrug off standing desks despite the dire health warnings. Children, on the other hand, never wanted to be sitting in the first place.
Priceonomics Blog: If Sitting Is The New Smoking, Then Why Do We Make Kids Do It?
Actually, the more obvious it’s not a normal illness, the less likely they’ll mention it. Even if your cast includes some of the most helpful doctors or mind readers, the character won’t bring it up for quite a few episodes in a row, constantly making the excuse they’re just a bit under the weather.
Definitely Just a Cold – Television Tropes & Idioms
The strong association between poor diets and poverty allows people to use this issue as a cipher for something else they want to say, which is less socially acceptable.
Alzheimer’s could be the most catastrophic impact of junk food | The Guardian
Why not make the fruit bowl more visible? Put your fruit on the table and not in the refrigerator bin. People say, “That’s okay because I have self-control.” Why not give your self-control a break?
Excellent interview about various findings from research on eating habits. External cues, exercise, perceptions, norming, status, mindfulness, and more generally, over-confidence.
How external cues make us overeat.
If you look and see who is healthier, you’ll find out that people who were mostly vegetarians tend to live longer and have less cancer and diabetes than people who get most of their fat and protein from animal products. The assumption by the researchers is that this is causal – that the only difference between mostly vegetarians and mostly meat-eaters is how many vegetables and how much meat they eat. I’ve argued that this assumption is naïve almost beyond belief. In this case, vegetarians or mostly vegetarian people are more health conscious. That’s why they’ve chosen to eat like this. They’re better educated than the mostly meat-eaters, they’re in a higher socioeconomic bracket, they have better doctors, they have better medical advice, they engage in other health conscious activities like walking, they smoke less. There’s a whole slew of things that goes with vegetarianism and leaning towards a vegetarian diet. You can’t use these observational studies to imply cause and effect. To me, it’s one of the most extreme examples of bad science in the nutrition field.
Gary Taubes on Dieting | FiveBooks | The Browser
I get sick every time I go home for Christmas, and while it isn’t helped by lack of sleep and alcohol abuse, I’m pretty sure 75% of it is the 3-5 hours I spend on what is, essentially, a flying petri dish.
So thanks to The Wall Street Journal for these tips (which I’ve summarized):
- Hydrate (drink water, use saline spray).
- Clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Use disinfecting wipes to clean off tray tables before using
- Avoid seat-back pockets.
- Open your air vent, and aim it so it passes just in front of your face. Filtered airplane air can help direct airborne contagions away from you.
- Stay the hell away from people who look sick
The air vent thing was new to me! Now I’m off to get disinfecting wipes and some saline spray.
Update: thanks to @aweissman for this suggestion: “i do this and it almost always works: basically OD on Vitamin C before you get on the plane – right before. Use EmergenC or a similar product, drink it all up while waiting.”
See also: Daniel Pink’s travel tips. Episode #1 is about avoiding illness. I like his ointment-in-the-nose trick. And don’t forget (environ-)mental health tactics: earplugs, headphones, eye mask!
How To Not Get Sick On An Airplane
Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats – BBC Four. Showing the world’s progress along the axes of lifespan and income. Fascinating data and a wonderful narrator/performance. (via)
“What are we to make of their willingness to issue life-and-death pronouncements involving other people?”
The Limits of Bioethics: Where the profession ends and politics begins