Weekend Special: Reckless Medicine | Care And Cost

Less than half the surgeries, drugs and tests that doctors recommend have been proved effective.

Source: Weekend Special: Reckless Medicine | Care And Cost

“Reckless Medicine” by Jeanne Lenzer & Shannon Brownlee
originally published on 2010-11-20 in Discover Magazine, November 2010 issue

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Next time your doctor talks to you about surgery, make sure you do your own research too so you can provide actual informed consent. The poor doc’s life is hard enough learning HOW to do all the things demanded of them without being omniscient statistical gods about whether or not any of it is actually right for you. It would be convenient if they could, but they are just people too. Give them a break and do your part to keep yourself healthy.

What if grocery receipts included calorie counts?

My most recent grocery bill was $195, but how many calories did I bring home? If exactly everything was consumed by 4 people in equal portions over the next week (7 days), then how many calories will I have consumed? Websites with nutrition information are legion on the internet (with 88 million results for “nutrition” on Google, 2010-10-20), but finding the time to apply it all is difficult [even under the amazingly optimistic assumption that you can sort out what is correct and what is not]. It may be a heuristic, but you more or less eat all the calories that you purchase and bring home from the grocery store (unless you are throwing out a lot of uneaten food or throwing parties where you provide food to the guests). America already has a law that mandates calorie counts for restaurants [2][3][4], barcodes already link to price data, and all the packaged food sold in the store has nutrition labels. What would the public effect be of printing a total calorie count at the end of grocery store receipts?

[1] : “SELF Nutrition Data” by NutritionData.com © 2009 Condé Nast Digital, 2010/10/20

[2] : “Fast Food Calories News Reveals Health Care Restaurant Law” by Andy Hodges, 2010/03/25

[3] : “FDA releases guidance on federal menu labeling requirements” by U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2010/08/24

[4] : “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” see section “4205” by One Hundred Eleventh Congress of the United States of America, 2010/01/05