Zintro’s Public Health Professionals share their high priority concerns for 2013

Stock PhotoWe asked public health professionals from around the globe to offer up their most pressing public health issues. Many responded with incredible depth and insight on a variety of issues. Take a look.

Dr. Roy E. Vartabedian, president of Designs for Wellness, says that his work in public health focuses on the nutrient density of the human diet. “Nutrient density refers to the amount of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants) per calorie in the foods we eat. You can determine this number for each food or for a whole diet. A low nutrient density in our diet can lead to obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and is related to virtually every other chronic disease today,” Vartabedian says. “This happens when we take in too many calories and not enough of the life-sustaining nutrients we need to keep our bodies functioning at peak performance.”

To increase nutrient density, Vartabedian says that one must increase the concentration of needed nutrients in the body and decrease the concentration of detrimental components like calories, cholesterol, fat, and sugar. This is because most foods that are high in nutrient density are also low in things that are harmful to the body. The following list highlights the highest to lowest nutrient density for food groups: 1. Vegetables 
2. Fruits 
3. Legumes 
4. Grains 
5. Milk/Dairy 
6. Meat/Fish/Poultry.

There is also a dramatic difference in nutrient density within each food group; for example, Vartabedian says many people are surprised to learn that 1/4 of a cantaloupe has six times the overall nutrient density of an apple. “I have analyzed over 50,000 foods for their nutrient content from 13 different countries worldwide. This research has the goal of helping people identify the very best foods to eat from each of the food groups,” he says. “I developed a system that analyzes 26 positive and negative factors in each food and gives one number, which tells the overall nutritional value. If a person eats 100 or more of these Nutripoints they get the nutrition they need each day and can avoid harmful components in foods while meeting the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Dietetic Association guidelines.

Debra Battista, an expert in healthcare administration, says that she is concerned about the lack of accountability for personal health status. “Patients seem to want a pill or a list of suggestions that will automatically reverse symptoms or diagnoses. What they seem to forget is that many of their issues compound over months, years, or a lifetime. It is very difficult to respond in a way that is acceptable to the patient; they feel that you don’t know enough, aren’t listening to them, or they think that you have the resources to help but refuse,” she says. “For example, when you are dealing with an obese child and the parents are also obese, it is difficult to provide encouragement and education when the parties are not receptive to change. The media spends a great deal of time blaming soft drinks and sugar. What they need to focus on is moderation and accountability. A universal healthcare system is not going to automatically reverse a health status brought on by a lifetime of poor choices or avoidance of symptoms.”

By Maureen Aylward



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