Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wired For Health

Recently, Wired Magazine ran two pieces that might interest Brentwood Dieters.

The first article titled, "12 Shocking Ideas That Will Save The World" featured a whole slew of controversial planet-changing actions. But, one of the simplest ideas dealt with common sense: that people must take responsibility to save themselves or as the subhead explained, "Cheat Death." According to Ralph Keeney of Duke University, "55% of deaths for people age 15 to 65 can be attributed to poor decisions." Choices like not wearing seat belts, smoking, drunk driving, obesity, etc. The article went on to detail ways to incentivize or penalize people into making smarter choices.

The second article, titled, "The Buddy System," explored 50 years of medical data to reveal that our social networks effect our health and happiness. For example, researchers Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler reviewed the famous Framingham Heart Study to delve into the power of social networks. They found that overtime people got fatter--in 1948 10% of the population was obese and today, 40% is. But the kicker was that the key factor that predicted obesity was close, personal relationships. People were, "Fat by association." On the flip side, heathy habits were also contagious. In the 1970s, 65% of people aged 40 to 49 smoked and that number dropped to 22% by 2001. It seems that the company we keep really matters and influences our lives on levels we might not even be aware of.

Basically, the stories in the high-tech magazine backed up some tried-and-true wisdom with hard data. They related that both personal responsibility and other people impact our health immensely--and there's something both obvious and ironic about that. (Check out

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