a roundup of last week’s news that caught my interest.
last week mcdonald’s was besieged with renewed requests to remove the unhealthy tarnish from their golden arches. health advocates and philadelphia nuns asked for improved reporting, fewer toys and the “deep fry” for ronald.
mcdonald’s clinging to ronald as an emblem for their restaurants has nothing to do with their food and everything to do with image control. ronald’s lawn gnome existence at all ronald mcdonald houses makes him (and them by extension) a paragon of empathy and clara barton-like goodness.
“Ronald is indeed an ambassador who has brought a taste of America to the world. He has sponsored the Olympics, supporting fitness and health. He visits sick children in hospitals, and he has about 300 houses where parents can stay free while their kids undergo chronic care.”
i’d say we’re witnessing a burgeoning health zeitgeist. farmers’ markets. locavores. slow-food movements. workplace wellness. e-patients. personal health records. social health. public/private community partnerships. urban gardens. urban chickens! that’s only a smattering of the interests and actions influencing our thinking about health. another that’s gathering steam is the focus on inserting small breaks into our very long days.
“Even companies with tiny fitness budgets can enact schemes that see big health gains. Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor of health sciences at the UCLA School of Public Health, developed an exercise program that requires nothing more than structured 10-minute work breaks. During the workday, taking three such breaks—which involve moves such as marching in place and simple shoulder presses—adds up to the 30 minutes of activity recommended by the U.S. surgeon general.
“Yancey has distributed DVDs with these ‘Instant Recess’ exercises to about 150 small nonprofit and government organizations in L.A. over the last few years. She’s studying the effects of the program with these workers and will release her findings in 2013.”
ford’s been working with welldoc to make our cars into techno lassies. some critics wonder why we’d want our cars to monitor our health when devices already exist to do just that. i don’t know—i think it’d be pretty great if my car alerted fellow drivers when i’m in crisis mode.
“Working with WellDoc, a start-up developer of software-based health management tools, Ford has created a prototype system that could monitor health issues like congestive heart failure and asthma, then display and transmit alerts if the driver is in danger.”
here in the U.S., some have posited employers would drop wellness faster than maria shriver dropped arnold if they weren’t in the business of providing health benefits. not so, according to a new study from towers watson about wellness going global.
“When asked to cite the primary objectives for their global health strategy, 54% of the 149 multinational corporations responding to the survey said it was to demonstrate their continued interest in employee well-being, resiliency and stress management, while 52% said it was to help control rising health care costs.
“European, Middle East and African employers were more likely to rank employee well-being and stress management as primary objectives, while North American companies were more likely to cite controlling health care costs.”
physical well-being is an attention hog. it overshadows our need for mental, financial and social well-being. a growing number of employees are working to improve all at once by paying an extra health tax only gay employees with domestic partners see.
“These companies are reaching into their own pockets to pay for an extra tax that their gay employees owe on their partners’ health insurance—something that their married heterosexual co-workers don’t have to worry about because the federal government recognizes them as an economic unit.
“To gay employees, gaining equal benefits is about more than the money. The gesture itself validates their relationship with their partners at a time when the government has not.”
vermont seems to be on track to have the first single-payer health care system in the U.S. not only do they want to conquer their own state-based health crisis, they want to serve as a model for our future.
“If Vermont does get it right, it could see more businesses and jobs coming in. Shumlin sees this type of health insurance as a big financial ease for employers, especially small-business owners.
“That’s a big economic incentive, but it wasn’t enough to save the single-payer provision of the Affordable Care Act from being axed by Congress last year. Yet Vermont might be the right size and the right political environment to be a sandbox for a single-payer system in America, and Shumlin believes it could serve as a model for other states.”