With the new year, New York City bid farewell to Mayor Mike Bloomberg after a twelve-year term. Love him or hate him, his achievements in public health were stunning. While others only talked, he managed to act on smoking, obesity, and hypertension—and he placed the burden of fixing them on the industries that profited at the cost of the public’s health.
The Mayor showed that public health is a priority for local government, not just for the federal government to create health policies from on high. Bloomberg used New York City as a laboratory for public health innovation, spotlighting issues and testing solutions on a relatively small scale.
Here’s a reminder of Mayor Bloomberg’s most significant public health campaigns:
While the Republican race seems to shift from candidate to candidate with each primary, it seems to be a two horse race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Here’s a brief look at how they compare on the complex issue of health care.
Mitt Romney on Healthcare
Mitt Romney has had to do a peculiar dance regarding health care. In his home state of Massachusetts, Romney has presided over a successful state-run health care plan, but since state-run health care is not a popular stance with the Republican base that will get him the party nomination. It’s probably the main sticking point as to why he hasn’t already shored up the nomination. (more…)
Last night’s State of the Union address from President Obama covered a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time. Nearly none of that covered health-related issues, mainly because it wasn’t politically expedient in an election year with job fears and emotions over tax fairness.
There were a few passing comments on health issues, none in any real depth. However, one really struck home with me:
“I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean,” said the President.
While many of us are eating too much junky processed food and not enough healthy natural food, water, the vary foundation of life on Earth is being threatened. It’s an issue that gets next to no coverage anywhere in relation to other environmental problems. But it’s the one problem that, if it got out control, would be the quickest route to our demise.
About 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. More than 60 percent of an adult’s body is made up of it. Without it, you will die in about three days. It’s pretty important. (more…)
There’s always a bit of political grandstanding that goes on during a president’s state of the union address, but it is especially ratcheted up during an election year. This is one of the key moments for President Obama to make the case for his re-election. That means he is most likely to talk about the economy and various issues surrounding it.
Insiders say topics will include the continuing housing crisis, jobs, and fixing a tax and financial system that many think is unfairly rigged for the richest few.
What, if anything, will be said about the state of healthcare in the U.S.? It seems doubtful much of anything, other than a cursory mention, given what most people will be voting on this year.
Much of the address will be targeting the all-important voting block of the middle class. Many of them are certainly struggling with their pocketbooks… but many are also without healthcare. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people without health insurance coverage was 49.9 million in 2020. (more…)
What do you do when some of the healthiest foods on the planet, fish and shellfish, actually become dangerous to eat? Of course, the dangers of mercury exposure are much more extensive and complex than that, and for that reason the Obama Administration has announced its praise for new protective measures to reduce mercury and other toxic air emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finished our first national standards to reduce toxins. Power plants are the largest man-made source of toxic air emissions such as mercury, arsenic, acid gas, and cyanide in the United States.
When mercury is not emitted naturally from such sources as volcanoes, it comes from human activities like manufacturing or burning coal for fuel.
When mercury falls from the sky through precipitation (rain or snow) into bodies of water like lakes and streams. From here, it works its way up the food chain. Bacteria in soils and sediments convert mercury to methylmercury, at which point it is consumed by small aquatic plants and animals. (more…)
There is a lot of talk about what we need to do about the obesity epidemic we are facing in the U.S… and that’s precisely the problem, according to Jane Black, a food writer for The Atlantic.
“To make real change, reformers need to stop preaching and start forming smart political alliances to get the job done,” says Black.
As she astutely points out, it’s not enough to be right. You can be right about every point on your food policy agenda, but if you don’t have practical and political solutions for achieving results, what good is it?
The problem isn’t unlike any other political battle in our country. You can have truth on your side all you want, but if you aren’t politically savvy with how you brand your messaging, good luck with winning those battles. (more…)
October is National Farm to School Month, which was enacted by Congress last year. The concept centers around creating and promoting strong relationships between local farms and schools.
A national grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is meant to provide support for not just schools, but businesses and other institutions in promoting the use of locally-grown produce in their cafeterias. The latest school to take advantage of this healthy initiative is the University of Missouri. The state of Missouri has 78 school districts that use locally grown produce. (more…)
It’s finally happened: a fat tax is being implemented. Before you get hot under the collar, it’s not happening stateside. Yet. Denmark is the country bringing about the first tax to directly attack obesity.
“It’s the first ever fat tax,” said Mike Rayner, Director of Oxford University’s Health Promotion Research Group, who has advocated for quite some time the idea of taxes on unhealthy foods.
“It’s very interesting. We haven’t had any practical examples before. Now we will be able to see the effects for real.” (more…)
I don’t like being a pessimist, but are we all just doomed? Every time I hear new news related to our health, it just keeps getting worse.
What’s really leading me to a gloom-and-doom outlook is that no matter how highly publicized our health problems are and what’s behind it all, we continue to get fatter.
A new report by the nonpartisan advocacy group called Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has revealed that not a single state in our Union can report a decrease in its obesity rate.
“Obesity is one of the most challenging health crises this country has ever faced,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health. (more…)
In public health policy, you can’t get much more divisive or controversial than the topic of taxes on high calorie foods. It doesn’t help put out the fire when researchers say that the tax actually works.
Researchers used nearly 200 college students in an experiment to see how their food purchases would change, if at all, when there is a substantial tax on high-calorie foods.
“The most important finding of our study is that a tax of 25 percent or more on (high-calorie) foods makes nearly everyone buy fewer calories,” says lead researcher Janneke Giesen of Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
The only exception was people who were already calorie-conscious in the first place – their decisions were not swayed either way with the food tax.