Thursday, July 27, 2006

Too Fat for X-Rays? Time for Gov Action?

It's a small fraction, but about .15 percent of radiological tests (like X-Ray, MRI and PET scans) over the past year come back "limited due to body habitus." In plain English, this means that the patient was too fat for the test to work. The rate of this problem has doubled in the last 15 years, and is expected to get worse as 64 percent of the U.S. population is obese, reports CNN.

In addition to tests limited by "body habitus," some tests can't even be performed because patients are too large to fit into current scanning machines. While bigger machines are being manufactured, they're expensive, and may only show up in the largest hospitals.

Meanwhile, over in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Tony Blair, has said that, "People must take more responsibility for their health to relieve pressure on the National Health Service (NHS),"
according to a new BBC report.

The NHS is like our Department of Health and Human Services, and its beginning to feel the strain from obesity, smoking and other health issues related to poor individual decisions.

Blair isn't advocating the government "stop treating people" or "force people to do things," but "government has to play an active role in precisely the way the enabling state should work and that is empowering people, setting the conditions in which they can choose responsibly."

This gentle, "enabling" approach sounds just enough, but what do you do when increasing numbers of people are too obese for X-Rays to work on their bodies? Maybe "force," or something similar, is required.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.