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Transplant Athlete
Friday, April 01, 2005
  Solutions

I was watching a program "Weight of the World" on Free Speech TV (channel 9415 on Dish Network) and like "Super Size Me", it places the blame for our growing weight epidemic on fast food and a lack of exercise. It also makes the link between diabetes, heart disease, and all the other diseases that are threatening to start decreasing the life expectancy of Americans.

What I found really interesting is the scope of the solution the producers of the show recommend. Part of the problem is the lack of exercise due to the labor saving devices, but primary blame is placed on the automobile and the way our neighborhoods and cities are designed. The Indian Tribe featured in the program had built walking paths all over town and used different "games" and events to get people to exercise. The problem with that situation is that it depends on one or maybe two people to force it. It could easily revert back to where it was before. A new housing development was being designed from the ground up to encourage exercise which makes a lot of sense.

If, by design, people are forced to exercise, they will. In the new housing development on the show, houses were placed uphill from the street, so people would be forced to walk up and down stairs. Stores, walking paths, and parking lots would be situated such that it would be quicker to walk, rollerblade, or bike to the store versus a car. The problem there is people don't like to be forced into anything and they may just find someplace else to live.

I can get around most of the DC area by bicycle, but sometimes, just going two miles to the store can seem like a nightmare. I want to take the bike, but its raining and cold and the car seems so much faster. If I can't get on the bike for a short trip like that, how do I get others to get out of their cars for a trip to the grocery store that might seem like a hundred miles away to them?

The stakes are high. Obesity leads to diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases that have side effects like kidney failure, blindness, heart attacks, etc. Diabetes alone accounts for 43% of new cases of ESRD(kidney failure). Diabetes CAN be controlled with diet, exercise, medication/insulin.
 

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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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