There are two things in life that most of us fail miserably at. One is health education and the other is financial education. Interestingly, they are often intertwined. In High School most of us have taken a class called, “Health.” Very few of us took a class that centered on financial education. Let’s leave financial education for another day (other than one or two brief mentions.) Since my entire adult life has centered on the Health and Wellness industry let’s focus for a moment on what I mean by “failed miserably” at health education.
THE ROLE OF MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
I believe strongly in the role of medical doctors and trained nurses. They play an extremely important role in our society. They are one of the primary reasons why the United States is ranked world-wide at the very top in emergency and trauma care. I give the medical profession and the science behind it all the praise possible for this care. But, there is another side to this picture. A huge part of our population has given all of their health care over to the medical profession rather than take the responsibility themselves for maintaining their personal health. Medical doctors, for example, are not the ones responsible for the high rate of obesity and over weight people in this country. That responsibility falls upon each of us who overeat, consume the wrong foods, and do not exercise. In years gone by, especially in rural and suburban areas, many homes had gardens and produced fresh fruits and vegetables which were high in nutrient value. Today many growing children think that fresh fruits and vegetables come from the grocery store. And, in reality, for many of them this is true. Many of those foods today do not have the nutrient value they did fifty or one hundred years ago. Often people look to their medical doctor for guidance in how to provide their children with the nutrition needed for growth and development. My good friend the late Dr. Lendon Smith, MD used to say to me not to blame the MDs because most medical schools have taught little about real nutrition.
THE RISE OF OTHER MEANS OF HEALTH EDUCATION
I first entered the Wellness Community in the late 1960s as the distributor of health foods to health food stores. At that time it was reported that only about 2% of the people in the U.S. had ever been in a healthfood store or taken advantage of alternative health care such as chiropractors or naturopaths. Today, 2022, it is reported that 75% of Americans regularly use some form of alternative care, use food supplementation and read material about natural health. These alternative sources have become an important piece of our health education. And yet, we are still faced with the fact that few of this population truly take responsibility for their own long-term health care. It is said that this is one of the reasons that the U.S. ranks way down the list in care for long-term chronic diseases. To say that this is one of the major challenges facing our community today is an understatement. By far the largest expense in the federal budget of the U.S. centers around healthcare. The budget for National Defense doesn’t even come close.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
I certainly, in this short post, do not have the total answer to the question of how we improve health education in the U.S. Medical schools and many government programs are heavily dependent upon the pharmaceutical industry for financial support. This creates an inbalance that is hard to overcome. And yet, people are growing more hungry every year for information on how to improve the nutrition of the foods they consume and how to take more responsibility for their own health. This is evident from the increased use of alternative care, the number of hospitals now using alternative modalities and the constant growth of the legitimate supplement industry. One simple step that can help with this national health education need is for each of us in our own families to take the responsibility for teaching our children to be responsible for their own health.