Since just about every refrigerator automatically comes with
a meat drawer, butter shelf, and egg rack, it should come as no surprise that
most homes are predictably equipped with a medicine chest. Taking such
inevitability further along its natural progression, those in the health care .
. . I mean, disease care field fully expect to be regularly
treating patients with a fair amount of body fat.
Case in point: About six years ago, my wife Michele began
experiencing severe abdominal discomfort -- in the lower right quadrant. Ever
cautious about subjecting herself to the demoralizing disease care labyrinth,
she was in no hurry to visit our local emergency room. However, when the pain
became too much to ignore, the emergency room is precisely where we ended up . .
. at nearly midnight.
A male complaining of pain in the lower right abdomen
would�ve garnered an almost immediate diagnosis of appendicitis. For women, it
requires further testing. This reality became particularly germane when we
realized that the Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) Scan technician was not on
duty so late at night and the attending physician could not prescribe a
painkiller until a diagnosis was made (which, of course, required the CAT Scan
technician). Not exactly Grey�s Anatomy
or ER, huh?
Roughly 12 agonizing hours later, a scan was finally
performed . . . but shortly afterwards, a doctor came to speak with me. It
seems the test results were, shall we say, inconclusive.
�Your wife is too thin,� the man in the white coat told me.
�Her body fat is so low that we can�t get the contrast we need on the scan.� Just perfect, I thought to myself. It�s absolutely ideal that a defective
system like this is designed to deal specifically with those who have bought
into the standard American diet/lifestyle.
Michele�s family had arrived by then and thought it was
amusing to remark that the body fat/contrast conundrum proved that she needed
to change her vegan eating habits. After what turned out to be 17 hours of
waiting in misery until finally being scheduled for an appendectomy, Michele
was clearly in no mood to laugh.
I�ll tell you what else isn�t comical about the disease care
cartels: nutrition training at America�s medical schools. An April 2006 study,
published in American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition, found that �the amount of nutrition education in medical schools
remains inadequate� and 60 percent of medical schools in the United States are
not meeting minimum recommendations for their students� nutrition education.
Only 32 of the 106 schools surveyed (30 percent percent) even required a
separate nutrition course. Thus, even the most well-meaning and diligent
physician is often ill equipped to offer legitimate help within the structure
he or she was trained in.
�Doctors typically aren't given much training in nutrition
and some so-called nutrition experts are not well qualified in that field,�
says Neal Pinckney, M.D., author of The
Healthy Heart Handbook. �A large sample of physicians was asked how much
training they got in nutrition in medical school. The average was less than
three hours, with many having only one hour or less. That's out of nearly 3,500
hours of medical training. The truth is that doctors may get their nutrition
information from the same newspapers and TV programs we do, and unless they
have taken extra training in nutrition, they may not know much more about
nutrition than the rest of us.�
No wonder hospital food is so, uh, frightening. The
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reviewed hospital menus in 2005
and found that �on many days at some hospitals, patients and visitors cannot
find a low-fat, cholesterol-free entr�e in the main cafeteria or restaurant.
Fewer than one-third of hospitals surveyed offered either a daily salad bar or
a daily low-fat vegetarian entr�e� (17 percent of the responding hospitals had
a fast-food establishment on the premises). When asked for their �healthiest
entr�e� recipe, 62 percent of these offerings derived more than 30 percent of
calories from fat, and a few derived more than 50 percent of calories from fat.
Hey, I guess they�re just making sure those expensive CAT
Scans can find contrast.
Z. is the author of the forthcoming novel, "CPR for Dummies" (Raw Dog
Screaming Press. He can be found on the Web at www.mickeyz.net.