Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
This article considers ‘health’ and issues of embodiment through the prism of Deleuze and Guattari’s framework of theory. Deleuze and Guattari speak of an embodied subjectivity, a ‘body-without-organs’ (BwO), which is the outcome of a dynamic tension between culture and biology. This BwO – or ‘body-self’ – is a limit, the outcome of physical, psychological and social ‘territorialization’, but which may be ‘deterritorialized’ to open up new possibilities for embodied subjectivity. The question ‘what can a body do?’ is posed to address issues of health and illness. The physical, psychological, emotional and social relations of body-self together comprise the limit of a person’s embodied subjectivity, and as such delimit its ‘health’. ‘Illness’ is a further limiting of these relations, while health care may offer the potential to de-territorialize these relations, opening up new possibilities. This model suggests the importance of a collaborative approach to illness, health and health care.
People with higher education, and people who live in areas with a low mortality rate, are overrepresented among users of the free choice of the hospital system. Research shows that the system has reduced waiting times nationally, but different sections of the population make very different use of the system. “One of the findings is that people with higher education are more mobile than people with a lower education level.” This means that people with higher education travel more than people with less education in order to get swift treatment. The reason for the difference may be that highly educated people are better informed about their options. “When they become ill, I think they are less willing to wait. So they find out what their rights are and avail themselves of the services available to them”. In addition, Educated people may be more health-conscious than people with less education. “That is something we also see in other studies, for example that educated people go to their GP more often.”
In this landmark book of popular science, Daniel E. Lieberman—chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and a leader in the field—gives us a lucid and engaging account of how the human body evolved over millions of years, even as it shows how the increasing disparity between the jumble of adaptations in our Stone Age bodies and advancements in the modern world is occasioning this paradox: greater longevity but increased chronic disease. The Story of the Human Body brilliantly illuminates as never before the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the rise of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the advent of hunting and gathering, leading to our superlative endurance athleticism; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of cultural proficiencies. Lieberman also elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and how our bodies were further transformed during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. While these ongoing changes have brought about many benefits, they have also created conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, Lieberman argues, resulting in the growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Lieberman proposes that many of these chronic illnesses persist and in some cases are intensifying because of “dysevolution,” a pernicious dynamic whereby only the symptoms rather than the causes of these maladies are treated. And finally—provocatively—he advocates the use of evolutionary information to help nudge, push, and sometimes even compel us to create a more salubrious environment.
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There is ample evidence to show that young people living in poorer circumstances are more likely to be at risk of unintentional injuries and lack of physical activity than those from more affluent families. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children aged 5−19 years in the WHO European Region, with road traffic, drowning and poisoning ranking among the top 15 causes of death in 0−19-year-olds. Deaths in countries with the highest injury rates are almost seven times those in countries with the lowest rates, with five out of six child injury deaths taking place in poorer countries. Physical inactivity in childhood and adolescence is recognized as having profound negative implications for the health of young people as they grow into adulthood, and being subject to socio-environmental influences. WHO/HBSC Forum 2009, the third forum in a series designed to promote adolescent health, concentrated on action on socio-environmentally determined health inequities among children and adolescents. This publication presents the summary of outcomes from WHO/HBSC Forum 2009. It also features two background papers on injuries and physical activity and environmental inequalities among children and young people which set the context and present a summary of the evidence on the topics, and 10 country case studies which share national experiences.
New findings explain how politics, economics, and ecology can help or hurt our bodies.
The physician, frustrated by the limitations of science in combating disease, believes that finding answers to the most persistent medical challenges of our time—conditions that now threaten to overwhelm our health care system—depends on understanding the human body as a system nested within a series of other, larger systems: one’s family and community, environment, culture, and socioeconomic class, all of which affect each other. It is a complex, even daunting view—where does one begin when trying to solve problems this way?
If placebo medicine can induce people to release hidden healing resources, are there other ways in which the cultural environment can “give permission” to people to come out of their shells and to do things they wouldn’t have done in the past? Can cultural signals encourage people to reveal sides of their personality or faculties that they wouldn’t have dared to reveal in the past? Or for that matter can culture block them? There’s good reason to think this is in fact our history.
I’ve come round to the idea that humans have in fact evolved a full-blown self management system, with the job of managing all their psychological resources put together, so as to optimise the persona they present to the world.
With barefoot running all the rage, the unshod workout is gaining ground across the exercise spectrum. Fitness experts from aerobics instructors to modern dancers are extolling the virtues of feeling the ground beneath their feet. Shoes give you a false sense of a platform. You don’t connect to ground. So goes the foot, so goes the body. If your foot is balanced and strong the rest of the body is too. That connectedness between foot and core and balance, that core connection, that’s ultimately what balance is. A firm believer that bare feet are happy feet, Barrett recalled that when her perpetually work-booted father finally removed his shoes, “his feet looked immature, not like the rest of his body.” She believes shoe-encased feet need to ease out gradually. For starters she suggests going barefoot around the house or performing the elementary exercise of pointing and flexing the bare foot 10 times.
In people with low blood levels of vitamin D, boosting them with supplements more than halved a person’s risk of dying from any cause compared to someone who remained deficient, in a large new study.
Analyzing data on more than 10,000 patients, University of Kansas researchers found that 70 percent were deficient in vitamin D and they were at significantly higher risk for a variety of heart diseases.
Based on extensive review of global evidence, the recommendations of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health highlight the need for strengthening research on health equity with a focus on social determinants of health. To do so requires a paradigm shift that explicitly addresses social, political, and economic processes that influence population health; this shift is under way and complements existing research in medicine, the life sciences, and public health.
Reflecting further synthesis and stakeholder consultations, an agenda for future research on health equity is outlined in four distinct yet interrelated areas: (1) global factors and processes that affect health equity; (2) structures and processes that differentially affect people’s chances to be healthy within a given society; (3) health system factors that affect health equity; and (4) policies and interventions to reduce health inequity.
Influencing regional and national research priorities on equity and health and their implementation requires joint efforts towards creating a critical mass of researchers, expanding collaborations and networks, and refining norms and standards, with WHO having an important role given recent mandates.