Two articles in the LA Times caught my eye this morning.

The first presents research indicating that bariatric surgery isn’t the “near panacea” for the multidimensional problems–patient health/lifestyle/longevity as well as medical costs–associated with obesity after all.

The second is an opinion piece by a medical doctor who suggests “your annual mammogram may cause you more harm than good.” The author, H. Gilbert Welch, wrote Overdiagnosed: Making people sick in the pursuit of health based on years of work in public health and clinical practice.

I have clients as well as family and friends who’ve undergone bariatric surgeries.  Some have had the standard dramatic initial weight loss as well as long-term benefits.  Others have had disappointing results, life-threatening complications, or not changed their relationship with food in a way that sustained the initial weight loss.

My personal experience with 20 years of annual mammograms has been complicated.  A favorite mammogram cartoon depicts two ladies greeting each other.  One says to the other “Did you have your mammogram today?” The first lady, whose breasts stick out in the shape of two books attached to her chest, says “As a matter of fact I did.  What makes you ask?”

The anxiety associated with having breast checks, the frequency of false positives (between 25-45% according to Welch), and what he says are the one-quarter to one-half of all cancers detected that “meet the pathological definition of cancer but are not destined to cause problems” yet get treated anyway, all contributes to a “cycle of increasing intervention” that put an unnecessary emotional toil on patients.

Yep.  That sounds about right.

Bottomline: better health through better technology isn’t working.  It’s a story that isn’t truly promoting our overall health and well being–either as individuals or as a culture. We need a better story.

We need to create a culture of individual responsibility for compassionate self-care where children are taught from the beginning to honor, respect, and listen to their bodies.

We need to equip both our children and ourselves with tools for mindful living that enable us to pay attention to signals of hunger and fulness so we don’t overeat, gain weight, and end up in the severely compromised condition that bariatric surgery patients find themselves.

And we need to return to a whole foods diet that eliminates pesticides, genetically modified products, hormones, antibiotics and all the other crap giant food manufactures use to increase their bottomline.

Not that I have anything to say about that!