Public Health Medicine: the fat lesbian problem

In 1854, a doctor called John Snow famously worked out, with a careful mapping exercise, that the London cholera outbreak in his area was coming from a specific source, the water pump on Broad Street. An early example of effective and necessary public health thinking. In fact, infectious disease is still a good use of public health resources, and it always will be.

BUT, how about this one:

–$1.5 million to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to study why many American lesbians are overweight. The National Institutes of Health calls the situation “an issue of high public-health significance.” Sure. Everybody’s talking about it.

OK, it’s an American example, and under Obama there’s going to be a lot more of that. That’s one thing we have in common with the US, we can’t afford such stupidity with the public purse. Not that that’s stopping them. Try this:

Only one in five pregnant women paid by NHS Tayside to stop smoking is able to quit for more than three months after their baby is born, figures have shown.

But health officials said the number was higher than any other smoking cessation scheme in Scotland.

And almost 60% of the participants – who were given £12.50 a week if they passed a breath test – gave up smoking for four weeks, the health board said.

Just over half of these mothers to be, paid by us to quit the fags managed to do so for four weeks, and they boldly proclaimed it a “success”.  Mind boggling. The Knife has previously highlighted the exciting efforts by the NHS in Warwickshire, in tandem with the local council, to explore sexuality in 13 year olds, including that old favourite, bestiality. I kid you not, and they slag off Jimmy Savile?

All very one sided I know, and no doubt there’s plenty of good Public Health medicine, though in developed countries it’s mostly around lifestyle choices. Which is where I have a problem, because I like choice.

The Knife is not a smoker, but I’m not hung up about it if others smoke, it’s their choice.  The painter David Hockney, writing very perceptively about smoking,  sums it up nicely:

We are all going to die, and this luckily comes at the end of life.

And having lesbians lose a few pounds is not going to change that.

Cholera around Broad St
Cholera around Broad St
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