Monday, July 07, 2008

America's Addiction to Pills

In Aldous Huxley's novel A BRAVE NEW WORLD, most of the world's population live in a hazed stupor. They are bombarded constantly by entertainment and consume a constant supply of pills so they don't have to feel anything. Though there are some differences, we are well on our way to the world described in A BRAVE NEW WORLD. On the front page of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH today (Monday, July 7, 2008) there is an article about the American Academy of Pediatrics releasing guidelines recommending that children as young as 8 be placed on cholesterol-lowering drugs and that children as young as 2 (TWO?!!!!!) be given cholesterol tests. Some of the doctors and academics quoted in the article say that the reason for this is because of the obesity epidemic in the United States.

Don't get me wrong. I know obesity is a problem in our country. We've become used to a sedentary lifestyle of sitting in front of televisions and computer screens for lengthy amounts of time with very little activity. I'm just as guilty as everyone else. However, prescribing pills to eight-year old kids and giving cholesterol tests to two-year old toddlers is NOT going to even slow down the widening girth of Americans. The only thing it will do is net the pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals (aka doctors) a lot more money and cause medical insurance rates to rise even more. This is morbidly ironic because the American Academy of Pediatrics is supposed to be an organization devoted to helping protect children and keep them healthy. Well, that's obviously not true now that they have sold out to the drug companies.

Instead of giving your eight-year old a pill, here are a few better, more healthy alternatives. Go outside. Take a walk. Stand out in the rain. Go puddle-jumping. Sit in the grass. Visit the park. Go to the zoo. Mow a yard (I started mowing yards when I was nine). Don't be afraid to sneeze a little. Don't be afraid of getting a little headache. Don't be afraid of a few healthy germs. Try not to even be afraid of getting hurt. Pain may not be pleasurable, but pain is a part of living. But whatever you do, for Pete's sake, don't take another pill or start giving more of them to your children, no matter what your doctor might recommend. Pills should be an exception, not the rule of thumb.

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