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Wayne Andersen, DO, MD
The Third Era Of Medicine Begins With a Healthy Weight
. http://www.drwayneandersen.com

The Third Era Of Medicine Begins With a Healthy Weight

A new era of medicine is beginning where patients and physicians alike are thinking differently about health, devoting more energy to preventing disease instead of reacting to disease.

For decades, the practice of medicine has been reactive. In the first era of medicine, we sought to solve large-scale public health challenges like small pox or basic sanitation. When the second era of medicine began starting roughly in the 1950s medicine shifted its focus to stamping out chronic disease. This led to a boom in technology that advanced medical science exponentially.

Despite its astounding strides in knowledge, the second era of medicine boasts record obesity levels. More than one-third of U.S. adults (78.6 million) are obese, which contributes to a number of chronic diseases, heart disease and type 2 diabetes among them.

With the reactive mindset, we would treat the end result of these diseases. A physician might prescribe statins to control cholesterol and regular doses of insulin to manage diabetes. If the patient has carried the weight for some time, we might also throw in some painkillers to dull chronic joint pain. This is on top of seasonal cycles of antibiotics that are necessary to support a weakened immune system.

Continuing down this treatment path does not improve the outlook for the patient. With no real change in lifestyle, the physician and patient continue to lurch from problem to problem.

With a third-era perspective, the physician advocates for and provides the behavioral support that a patient needs to adopt and continue a healthy lifestyle. While there are a number of paths this relationship could take, like reducing stress levels, improving sleep habits, or increasing activity, many physicians are likely to encourage a patient to first reach a healthy weight because of the many far-reaching rewards it creates.

In addition to reducing the likelihood of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancers, living at a healthy weight can also strengthen the immune system, reduce joint strain, lead to more restful sleep, and bolster overall energy levels. With so many health challenges tied to being overweight or obese, reaching a healthy weight is one of the clearest opportunities for preventing disease.

In losing weight, a patient stands to gain more years in their life, which means more time with loved ones, more energy to spend on creating memories, and a richer, more vibrant life overall.

This journey first begins with the realization that preventing disease is far more efficient and far more rewarding than reacting to disease. Many physicians, having spent years reacting to disease, welcome the opportunity to engage patients in a dialog about lifestyle and about habits. In this way, patients may hold the future of medicine in their hands.

For medicine as a whole to leave the second era where we react to disease and enter the third era where we prevent disease, patients need to be active participants in their health, reaching out for help before there is a serious problem.

As a patient, as the steward of your own health, will you work to prevent disease now, or will you react to disease later?

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