I was in one of our of local pharmacies last week standing dutifully behind the privacy line taped to the floor in front me, watching the flurry of activity unfold just beyond my reach.
Technicians were darting about waiting on customers, answering phones, filling prescriptions and doing their best to conceal their obvious frustration with having too many people to please and too little help.
As I impatiently awaited my turn, my gaze settled on the collection of bins behind the counter bursting with bags of prescriptions ready for pick-up. It suddenly occurred to me Americans, myself included, have become legalized drug junkies. No wonder pharmaceutical company profits have soared in recent years as people search for a quick and easy cure for their aches and pains and ailments de jour.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but admiration for the ingenuity of the scientists who work tirelessly to provide human beings with more comfort in the face of illness and infirmity but I wonder if we should do more to prevent the lifestyles that foster many of these ailments.
Although fighting “genetics” is like waging war against gravity — you can stay aloft for a while but inevitably you’ll tumble back to earth — fighting against “bad habits” should be a winnable battle. For example, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 3 adults in this country is considered obese. Obesity refers to an excess amount of body fat compared to muscle, bone and water. In a classic example of political correctness, the CDC attributes overweight and obesity to “an energy imbalance.” Translation: too little exercise and too many calories.
Being overweight or obese are risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, stroke and certain types of cancer. In my opinion, anyone receiving subsidized health care should be required to have a written plan for self-improvement which could include taking classes in proper nutrition and participating in a regular exercise program (under a doctor’s supervision if necessary). I would rather have my tax dollars spent on gym memberships than on drugs and surgeries related to the delightful collection of diseases linked to this sort of self-abuse.
It’s time for people to take more responsibility for their own health and adopt lifestyles that aren’t so self-destructive.
This includes people who, despite the warnings, continue to smoke (tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S.) or continue to use illegal drugs thereby imposing the consequences of their poor choices on the rest of society.
Shelly Aldean is a former member of the Carson City Board of Supervisors and a local business owner.
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