Friday, February 1, 2019

A New Deal to prevent heart disease

"We cannot be a strong nation unless we are a healthy nation."

--President Franklin Roosevelt, October 31, 1940, "Address at the Dedication of the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, Maryland."

Above: A WPA poster, advising Americans to get tested for tuberculosis, in addition to tests for malnutrition and heart disease. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

A new study released by the American Heart Association shows that "Almost half of Americans have heart or blood vessel disease" (NBC News, January 31, 2019). NBC adds that "Eighty percent of all cardiovascular disease can be prevented by not smoking and controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, along with regular exercise and healthy eating."

During the New Deal, there were massive efforts to make America healthier - recreation & fitness projects, initiatives to improve diet & nutrition, new & improved hospitals, clinics, and immunization programs, and much more.

It seems unlikely that we'll try to replicate these New Deal accomplishments today (even though we should), because so many tens of millions of Americans have been mechanized to sacrifice their health for millionaires, billionaires, and tech gadgets. If you're not making a billionaire richer, the mindset seems to be, then you're not doing anything important. But that submissive mindset comes with a heavy price, and high levels of cardiovascular disease are one of the deadliest of those costs.

The truth is, America needs a better, more healthy lifestyle. It can't just be, "let's work to enrich billionaires, read a few tweets, and then binge watch something on Netflix."

Above: A WPA poster promoting a healthy, balanced diet. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: The WPA had thousands of recreation projects all across the country, to bring people together, boost their morale, and improve their health. This photo shows a men's basketball game at a WPA-run transient camp in Port Jervis, New York, July 1936. Transients were people who roamed the countryside during the Great Depression, looking for work. WPA-run transient camps offered shelter, recreation, social connection, and public works jobs with modest paychecks. Today, of course, a lot of Americans would call such government-run work & recreation projects "ridiculous." Better, I suppose, that we have large-scale problems with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, suicide, deaths of despair, homelessness, mass imprisonment, etc. Unfortunately, many voters have been brainwashed into believing that government (i.e., We the People) can do no good, and thus we must be supervised by millionaires & billionaires. Isn't that pathetic? Relying on the greediest, and most selfish among us, to manage (i.e., limit) our life choices? No wonder half the nation has cardiovascular problems! Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

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