The Academy of Medicine of Lima and Allen County is opening access for area residents to local physicians in a new column in The Lima News.
Called “Ask a Doctor,” the column offers community members the opportunity to ask a medical question. One of the members of the academy will then respond. The first column will appear on the Health page two weeks from now on Dec. 19. We encourage you to send in your questions.
Along with the column, Academy members also will be available to address schools or any other gatherings for health and disease education. The academy is planning a health fair next year.
The academy has been heavily focused on addressing health care challenges since its inception in 1927.
One hundred years ago, a serious health care challenge surfaced with infant mortality. One out of 10 babies died within the first year of life. Milk was not always pasteurized, and as a result, easily transmitted tuberculosis and other potentially fatal diseases. Little was understood about hygiene and sanitation and their relationship with bacteria and viruses. Antibiotics and antivirals had not yet been discovered.
The health care challenges are now quite different from 100 years ago. There are many serious health issues these days. The Allen County health commissioner has identified top two health problems as obesity and opioid (and other drug abuse) epidemics.
The top issue identified by the health commissioner is obesity. More than seven out of 10 Allen County adult residents are either overweight or obese based on body mass index measurements. Chronic diseases like obesity — including diseases caused by obesity like cardiovascular disease and diabetes — are leading health issues. According to WebMD, chronic obesity subsequently leads to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout and breathing problems such as sleep apnea and asthma.
Obesity may lead to prediabetes and diabetes. According to National Institute of Health, an estimated 84.1 million adults ages 18 years or older (33.9 percent of U.S. adults) have prediabetes. Prediabetes is a stage where blood sugar in higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. An estimated 30.3 million people have diabetes (9.4 percent of the U.S. population). There is “brown fat” inside the belly of an obese individual that releases chemicals that damage the organs that control blood sugar.
“Let food be thy medicine ….” ― Hippocrates (460 BC, island of Cos, Greece — died 375 BC, Larissa, Thessaly)
Ayurveda says, “Food should be used as medicine (in measured quantity) for the disease called hunger.”
Is there a message there for addressing the obesity epidemic? Exercise and weight loss may prevent prediabetes and diabetes. According to NIH, 2½ hours of moderate physical exercise weekly and weight loss of seven percent of body weight can go a long way to prevent diabetes. Academy members are trying to promote lifestyle modification because prevention is cheaper than medication or surgical procedures.
It should also be noted that our community and the surrounding areas have a physician shortage and need more doctors to practice here and provide health care. The average physician coming out of professional school has an average debt of around $400,000 to $500,000. The academy works closely with the Academy of Medicine Allen County Foundation to provide loans to local students to pay for their medical school. The foundation waives the interest on the loan if the doctors coming out of medical schools decide to practice in the area.
Going forward, the academy will create a common platform for Lima Memorial Health System, Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center, Allen County Health Department and other local agencies to address some of the aforesaid problems. The academy will join the efforts with Activate Allen County in its efforts to improve health and wellness.
Dr. Suman Kumar Mishr is president of the Academy of Medicine Lima and Allen County. He also is a M.D. Fellow of American Association of Endocrinologists.