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Quick-Delivery Health Tips for a Better Life

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People make bad decisions about their health.  Some of us are quite lazy and do not exercise.  We ingest in excess.  American society in particular is so dysfunctional about reinforcing good health habits that many schools nutritionally poison students, as highlighted in this TED Talk by Jamie Oliver. The most striking features of our self-destructive behavior are that we either transgress in the face of our own cognitive dissonance, or we are ignorant of the very processes and materials which keep us alive and healthy.  Universal healthcare can meet a baseline of society’s needs, but it is still expensive because healthcare itself is expensive.  Even the government cannot get at the foundations of our obstacles to good daily health, like the school systems that focus on food affordability over balanced nutrition.  Stronger action must be taken. Individuals must take charge over their own health, but the health landscape is not simple.  Healthy food costs more, the poorest and unhealthiest communities often lack affordable access to nutritional food and health information, and intense pressure from social groups and media can keep people from making clear-headed decisions. Mobile communications devices, the falling cost of personalized medicine, and social networks can help people make smart health decisions with precision-targeted information.  Let’s combine a few key ingredients to deliver a revolutionary platform that looks as simple as a fortune cookie slip to 95% of users and stands on the best the past generation’s technical advancements. When these systems work together, a person could avoid bad health decisions before they are made.  They could learn more about the choices they can make regarding food safety by simply scanning a food’s bar code with their mobile phone and displaying its nutritional information (and competing prices with other nearby similar items).  GPS location pinging could deliver highly relevant health warnings about disease outbreaks, heat waves, contaminated food sources, fresh food providers and air quality.  A running tab of one’s daily nutritional intake could be easily kept by scanning foods at home, or even food names at restaurants.  Have you got a peanut allergy, or do you avoid pork? Spectrographic chemical analysis with the same camera you use to post photos to Twitpic can show what you’re really eating. Emergency response and mitigation would be more effective.  By making part or all of your health records available to health institutions on the Internet, you could deliver an emergency text coupled with GPS location and your problem to emergency medical systems instead of, or before, explaining further in voice over the telephone – which could be a video call at the press of a button.  Armed with this information, help can reach you faster and with all the right equipment to save your life before you get to the hospital. The greatest aid in making good health decisions may be much simpler than all of that.  Every day, when you wake up and as you sit down to a meal and when you pass the swimming pool, a simple health fact or tip could appear on your mobile as a gentle reminder about the choices you can make to live a healthier life.  Your social networks can power this: relevant stories your friends share about their health or the decisions they make and their consequences can populate some of these messages.  Think of these as targeted health-related aphorisms: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” transformed into “This gym is offering a three-month promotional price for membership. Click here for more details about the offer.  Click here for details about the benefits of exercise.” Foresight and good design, by working with what we have, can transform the well-being of all people by empowering them to make smart choices.
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Written by Preston

April 12th, 2010 at 5:07 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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6 Responses to 'Quick-Delivery Health Tips for a Better Life'

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  1. Good points! It’s always amazing what innovations pop up every day.

    While there are quite a few exciting technological developments we’ll soon be able to utilize, it seems that relying on them in the near future might not be ideal. Over the last few decades, there’s been a substantial push toward more disclosure of nutritional and ingredient contents. In the advent of all that new information available, people took advantage–soon we had stacks of books published; all this new data was just begging to be manipulated. Even though we still don’t completely understand all the nuances of nutrition ‘scientifically,’ we’ve grown to recognize nutrition (i.e. statistics and contents that we understand to be significant in a product) as a hard science. Even though it was aimed at transparency, this kind of disclosure has given the food industry a way to further manipulate and mangle our idea of what “healthy” means, essentially complicating the issue and making it tougher for people to understand what they’re consuming.

    If the combination of such technologies is used to simplify the issue for people, it will indeed prove useful. On the other hand, I fear that our still-limited understanding of nutrition as a science, along with the power and independence of the food industry may manage to derail the pure intention of healthy living.

    Now more than ever, we’re seeing the connectedness of healthcare and commercialized food–the more we save by subsidizing cheap beef production (not to mention skewing government-released nutritional recommendations), the more we’ll end up spending in healthcare to treat obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Universal healthcare will help a lot of people, but until we have the relationship between the food & healthcare industries balanced and working toward the same goal, I fear we’ll keep seeing such valuable developments squandered. In either case, the path ahead will sure be long and exciting.

    Stephen

    12 Apr 10 at 06:47

  2. Preston

    12 Apr 10 at 10:26

  3. Improved nutrition is probably the key to significant increases in the health of Americans.

    Unfortunately, as this now pretty famous clip shows, its a pretty monumental task that even the likes of Jamie Oliver may not be up to:

    Andrew

    13 Apr 10 at 23:57

  4. Good post.

    Simply because people “need” healthcare does not make it a natural right. It’s a privilege.
    Ben Pike´s last blog ..Life-savers air lifting someone from the old Bill Bailey parking lot in Oxford, AL.

    Ben Pike

    5 May 10 at 12:49

  5. The Amyloidosis Foundation estimates that approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with amyloidosis each year in North America and that blood cancers overall have increased more than 40% in the last decade.

    Amy B.

    4 Jun 10 at 09:00

  6. [...] – Health: How Technologies to Help Veterans can Help us All Quick-Delivery Health Tips for a Better Life A Cure for [...]

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