ABSTRACT: Ancestral Health ideas have far-reaching health policy and administration implications. Many of the most costly illnesses to treat are chronic diseases of civilization. Hopefully, folks interested in Ancestral Health will begin the process of integrating these ideas into mainstream institutions. In addition, entrepreneurs have already initiated efforts to build new organizations based upon mutual respect for our unique heritages as human beings. This presentation will discuss the healthcare system and food policy challenges that we currently face and engage attendees in considering ways to operationalize Ancestral Health solutions in our healthcare systems.
"The Clinical Implications of the Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS)" by Brent Pottenger, MHA
#AHS12 on Dr. Jack Kruse's blog:
COMMEMORATIVE ESSAY by Nate Rosenberg:
After I graduate from law school in December, I will begin a fellowship focused on improving public health and fostering economic development in the Mississippi Delta. The Delta is one of the poorest places in the United States and has some of the worst health outcomes.
In the 1960s, a young doctor in the Delta named Jack Geiger co-founded a government funded community health center. It proved successful, but when he began prescribing his patients food, administrators in Washington balked, refusing to reimburse the doctor for his patients’ food. When told by an official that pharmacies should only dispense medicine, he responded, “The last time we looked in the book, the specific therapy for malnutrition was food.”
Dr. Geiger knew that food should often be the centerpiece of health care. Five decades later, the public policy world is slowly coming to the same realization.
How does this relate to the issue we’re discussing today - integrating evidence-based nutrition into the healthcare system? It does so in two ways. First, there’s a tremendous amount of money available to support preventative health programs, yet there are no health care organizations integrating evidence-based nutrition in a comprehensive way. This is a waste and needs to be rectified. Second, organizations that do effectively integrate the evidence-based nutrition can impact federal policy.
Politicians hate to do two things: increase taxes and cut services. If health care costs can be cut without requiring them to increase taxes or cut services, they’ll jump at the opportunity.
It’s easy to be cynical when it comes to policy change. Of course it would be great to increase support for real food and decrease our reliance on pharmaceutical solutions, but what about the corn lobby, Big Pharma, and other big lobbying groups? That objection is understandable, but there are compelling reasons to think that the status quo can change.
A recently released book called Lobbying and Policy Change details the findings of a 10-year study that asked, “Who wins in Washington?” The study is the most comprehensive of its kind. The authors randomly chose 98 policy disputes, read more than 20,000 lobbying reports, and conducted 300 interviews to come to a radically counter-intuitive finding: financial resources, they concluded, have no observable effect on the outcomes of policy battles. Well-funded business interests win, it’s true, but staff-strapped and under-funded citizen groups win just as much. You can’t win if you don’t show up, however. As one commentator noted, “If you don’t have any lobbyists, donations, members, or organization at all then you’ve got a real problem.” We’ve got a real problem.
Dr. Geiger started dispensing food in 1965 primarily to address the high levels of hunger he found among his patients. While hunger remains problem in the Delta, the region is now known for another manifestation of malnutrition, obesity. The Mississippi Delta has the highest obesity rates in a country with alarmingly high obesity rates. This isn’t going to change until we create citizen groups that advocate for evidence-based nutrition and build health care institutions that favor food over pharmaceuticals. How we do so is still an open question.