Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dr. Shenkman Goes to Washington

I spent a few days in Washington DC last week.  As you can see, it was quite rainy and cold, not at all resembling the weather that we are accustomed to here in Los Angeles.

I traveled with a Young Leadership group from the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles.  We went to the White House, Capitol, Supreme Court, State Department, Holocaust Museum, and US Treasury Department.

We also had the opportunity to meet with representatives of our members of Congress to discuss a couple of important issues:  hunger in Los Angeles and Iran.

In Los Angeles, one in eight people face hunger every day.  That's a very sad statistic for a wealthy country like ours.  As I discussed in an earlier post, this is the role of the Jewish Federation's Fed Up With Hunger campaign -- to bring attention to hunger locally and to raise funds to combat it.

As a cardiologist, I had the opportunity to give my perspective on hunger:  Those who face hunger are poor and as a result eat unhealthy foods that are high in calories, fat, and sugar, and hence obesity is becoming more and more prevalent, especially amongst the poor.  Obesity leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, abnormal cholesterol, and as a result to heart disease.

Diseases like hypertension and dyslipidemia that once were thought to occur in middle age are being seen in younger and younger people.  I took care of a 25 year-old man with a heart attack and have a handful of patients who are younger than me who have suffered heart attacks.  I see teenagers with high blood pressure, diabetes, and dyslipidemia.

To help to combat obesity, we need to fight hunger by providing healthy options to cheap junk food.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You write, "Those who face hunger are poor and as a result eat unhealthy foods that are high in calories, fat, and sugar, and hence obesity is becoming more and more prevalent, especially amongst the poor."

This sentence makes it sounds as though there is a causal link between poverty and a calorie-dense, nutrient-poor diet, along with the obesity that often accompanies such a diet.

How does poverty lead to a diet high in fat and sugar?

-victoria

VeganHeartDoc said...

Victoria -- there is a causal link. Poor neighborhoods are full of fast food and corner stores with lots of prepackaged foods. But how often do you see a full grocery store in these areas? You don't. How often is there readily available produce? Almost never. Therefore, people in these neighborhoods buy what is convenient and inexpensive, which is high-fat, high-sodium, low-fiber foods that are devoid of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Anonymous said...

That's really interesting. It makes you wonder, Why do poor neighborhoods tend to lack grocery stores with fresh produce? A vegan diet, emphasizing cheap protein like legumes and brown rice, would be cheaper than even the cheapest fast food, so folks on a budget should be economically motivated to consume fewer animal produtcs. -victoria