Posts Tagged ‘public health’

Friday, September 11, 2009

2009 Paddle for the Cure Announced For September 26

Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company has announce its sponsorship of the 2009 Paddle for the Cure, a leisurely 6-mile paddle on the Moose River beginning at Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company, on Rt. 28 in Old Forge on Saturday, September 26. All proceeds for Paddle for the Cure will support the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. The Paddle for the Cure will begin at 11:00 am Saturday morning. The day-long event will last until 6:00 pm. More information and pre-registration forms are available at www.PaddleForCure.net.

According to the event announcement, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund supports both new and established researchers investigating the causes, prevention and treatment of breast cancer. This research will include—but not be limited to—studies of the genetic, molecular, cellular and environmental factors involved in the development and progression of breast cancer; application of the knowledge thus gained to educate medical professionals and increase public awareness for the prevention, detection and treatment of breast cancer; and studies of the outcomes of breast cancer detection and treatment on the patient, their families and society.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Questions for Dr. Edward Hixson:Weight and the North Country

Dr. Hixson is medical director of Adirondack Medical Center’s Bariatric and Weight Loss Program, based in Saranac Lake, which has facilitated loss of 100,000 pounds over the past ten years. The Adirondack Almanack sat down with him to discuss a Centers for Disease Control report that found Northern New Yorkers are heavier than their counterparts elsewhere in the state.

AA: Please tell us about the bariatric/weight program’s history and its goals.

EH: This program was founded in 1999 and is devoted to weight loss, no matter how you do it, surgically or not. We have two thoracic surgeons, a bariatric nurse/nurse practitioner/coordinator, a physicians assistant, plus we have two doctors, David Merkel and myself, who started the program, and we do administrative work and see patients. We also have a nutritionist and we developed a weight-loss program that is potentially as effective as surgery for those who stick with it — one of our previous operating room nurses is running that.

We’ve done it now for ten years and have had over a thousand people have surgery. Our surgical doctors have been responsible for more than a hundred thousand pounds of weight loss.

A year and a half ago we were designated as a Center of Excellence by the Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, which is the gold standard in the country today.

We are dealing with a chronic disease, treatment for life, and it really demands commitment and a lot of effort. The reward, when you see somebody lose 120 pounds — it’s a big difference. The average weight loss among people who have had the surgery, we found, is 117 pounds. Not everybody reaches their desired weight, but most people become healthier and less susceptible to weight-related diseases like diabetes, high-blood pressure and high cholesterol.

AA: When you founded the program, were you responding to a need in the community?

EH: Yes, Dr. Merkel and I had been talking about it. Weight was becoming a problem. We knew the need. When we became aware that there was a good solution for it, then we felt that it should be available up here, and that of course was surgery. We started with a few patients in 2000, and now we get about a hundred a year.

AA: Are they all North Country residents?

EH: We have a few from Canada, but most are from here. And there’s a basic premise of any critical treatment for weight anywhere, and that is: if you’ve got the problem you need treatment for life, whether it’s medical or surgical. There is no cure. The goal is control. And if you get control you have to make sure you keep control. Our rule from the beginning is follow-up for life.

AA: Were you surprised to see the Centers for Disease Control statistics that North Country residents are on average heavier than those elsewhere in the state?

EH: Well, I knew that, I had preached this ten years ago. The statistics are there. They’re not really new. We know that two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and half of those are morbidly obese. And this has been a problem of increasing magnitude for ten or twenty years. The fastest growing group of those who have a weight problem are children, which is discouraging because very heavy children grow into heavy adults. The other rapidly growing group are the morbidly obese. This is worrisome too because they are the ones with the most severe problems. About 4 percent of the country are morbidly obese; in Franklin County it’s 7 percent— there may be newer numbers than that, but that was a few years ago.

The heaviest state in the country is Mississippi, and the best state in the country as far as weight is Colorado.

AA: I was going to ask, is there something about the rural way of life that encourages weight gain?

EH: No not really. If anything it’s good for you. To a certain extent the rate is related to your population mix; obesity is more a problem among Native Americans, for instance, but really it’s related also to poverty and income level. It’s more of a problem to the people who can least afford to get out of the problem. This is not an affluent area, and I think that’s largely responsible.

AA: Do you see any signs the trend is reversing?

This is getting a lot of publicity. But on the other hand look at the huge amounts of money spent by the food industry on advertising. Then you look at the amount of money that is spent on health in schools or advertising; you are talking thousands-to-one.

The morbidly obese generally live a decade or decade and a half less than their normal-weight counterparts. The problem is getting worse quicker than we are solving it. More people are becoming obese than we are helping.

Shakespeare really hit it right on the nail: “Diseases desperate grown are by desperate appliance oft relieved, or not at all.” And that often applies to obesity. Surgery is often the most effective tool for controlling weight. And that’s why we started the bariatric surgery program.

My goal was, hey, can we do what a major medical center has trouble doing, in a small community hospital out in the woods, and I think we’re the smallest most rural place in the country that has this certification.

[He pulls a framed photograph of a woman on top of Hough Peak off the shelf.] This is one of our patients. She just gave me that the other day. She was morbidly obese, and here she is completing her 46 [High Peaks]. She doesn’t look like she’s unhealthy or heavy, does she?

If there’s a goal, we have a lifestyle up here that’s active physically, and there’s a movement to buy local food. Our environment is great, it’s healthy. If we could go from a 7 percent morbid obesity — one of the highest in the country and the highest in the state — if we could turn that around and be right up there doing better than Colorado, and to do it in a rural area, with very little monetary resource, if we do it on our own, grass-roots work, then that to me is a good goal.

I don’t think we’d do it with everybody having surgery, but if we can change things for the kids, time will change that. You can correlate the weight problem with the kids to the number of hours they spend in front of a computer and a television set. Chances are if you can drag kids away from a computer, there’s something outside they like to do.


Friday, July 24, 2009

North Country Residents Fattest in State

According to a report released this week, the New York counties with the highest percentage of overweight or obese adults are Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties at 67.7 percent. Hamilton County has 62.9 percent, Herkimer 62 percent, Warren 60.2 percent, and Clinton, Essex and Franklin have 56.7 percent. Manhattan was rated the state’s skinniest region, even with 42 percent of its adult population overweight.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand mined the data from federal Centers for Disease Control body-mass index statistics and released it Tuesday. The proliferation of overweight people “costs the U.S. over $100 billion in health care costs every year,” the report states. Over the past 30 years obesity rates have doubled among children and tripled among teenagers, the CDC says.

Gillibrand called on parents and schools to serve healthier foods and encourage exercise. She is drafting bills to ban trans-fats in schools and to increase the USDA’s authority to regulate school snacks. She also wants to increase funding for school lunches and community-based programs that encourage exercise.

New York’s heaviest counties are in line with CDC’s national average of 67 percent overweight; the state as a whole is below average at 60 percent. At 62 percent, the North Country has the highest obesity rate in New York. Gillibrand, a Democrat, represented much of this region as a member of the House for two years until she was appointed in Janary to a vacant Senate seat to represent the entire state.

Next week the Almanack will talk with North Country physicians about the report.

Graphic from Wiki Commons. From left to right, the “healthy” man has a 33 inch (84 cm) waist, the “overweight” man a 45 inch (114 cm) waist, and the “obese” man a 60 inch (152cm) waist.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Leave No Child Inside Program at Adk Wild Center

The recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal, Richard Louv identified a phenomenon many suspected existed but couldn’t quite put their finger on: nature-deficit disorder. Louv is a journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, is coming to the Adirondacks on Saturday, May 2nd to discuss the future relationship between nature and children. Since its initial publication, Last Child in the Woods has created a national conversation about the disconnection between children and nature, and his message has galvanized an international movement. Now, three years later, we have reached a tipping point, with the book inspiring Leave No Child Inside initiatives throughout the country.

According to Last Child in the Woods two out of ten of America’s children are clinically obese — four times the percentage of childhood obesity reported in the late 1960s. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation. They are missing the opportunity to experience ‘free play’ outside in an unstructured environment that allows for exploration and expansion of their horizons through the use of their imaginations. In Sweden, Australia, Canada and the United States, studies of children in schoolyards with both green areas and manufactured play areas found that children engaged in more creative forms of play in the green areas.

Nature not only benefits children and ensures their participation and stewardship of nature as they grow into adults, nature helps entire families. Louv proposes, “Nature is an antidote. Stress reduction, greater physical health, a deeper sense of spirit, more creativity, a sense of play, even a safer life — these are the rewards that await a family when it invites more nature into children’s lives.”

In addition to Louv speaking about nature deficit disorder, more than twenty-five organizations from throughout the region will be present at the Wild Center to offer information, resources and inspiration for families. Through increasing confidence and knowledge in the outdoors, families can learn how easy it is to become reconnected with nature. Activities scheduled throughout the day on the 31-acre Tupper Lake campus will range from fly fishing and nature scavenger hunts to building a fort or just laying back and watching the clouds as they pass in the sky above.

Louv will also officially open The Pines nature play area at the Wild Center. The Pines is a new type of play area designed entirely with nature in mind. Kids are encouraged to explore the play area on their own terms and in their own time. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

20 Things Adirondackers Should Know About Rural Life

One of the best new blogs is The Rural Blog, started last year by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. According to their masthead, The Rural Blog is “a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism in rural America.” They often report on issues in our area as they did when the Glens Falls Post Star started collecting information on local gun owners or in this piece about broadband access in Corinth.

Here are 20 things we’ve learned from the The Rural Blog that affect our Adirondack region:

Global demand for maple syrup is rising, but production is struggling to keep pace

Self-employment is on the rise in rural areas, but the average income of the rural self-employed is falling

While enlistments for Iraq have been dropping in urban areas, rural enlistments have remained stable

The decline in small-market broadcast news is hitting rural areas the hardest

Doctor and surgeon shortages are worst in rural areas

Hillary Clinton does best in mainly rural Republican districts

Many small market newspapers are not just surviving, but also thriving

Balloons are offering wireless service in rural areas

In rural areas, cell phones can cause 911 delays that lead to tragedy

Rural patients are less likely to receive necessary organ transplants

Lack of rural trauma systems kills rural Americans

Strong seat-belt laws help reduce deaths on rural roads

Even though Meth production is in decline, the drug remains a priority for police

Rural Americans make up a disproportionate share of Iraq war casualties

Hobby farms are boosting rural population as urbanites seek rural retreats or retirement

Kentucky’s public-private partnership for rural broadband serves as a national model

Municipal Wi-Fi is thriving in some rural towns

Hunting and fishing is declining, but watching wildlife is on the rise

Rural areas across the nation are struggling to keep educated young people

New EPA rules have left 45 rural counties (including Warren and Essex) out of ozone compliance