Visiting Editors: Weighing in on diabesity, partner violence and Rim fire

08/24/2014 12:00 AM

08/23/2014 11:24 PM

Diabesity: An emerging pandemic

One of the burning health care issues currently inflaming our community is also a growing problem all over the world. We call it “diabesity.”

Even if you don’t know the term, it’s important that we begin the discussion about how our community can be made better aware of this issue and how we can effectively work on finding solutions that will change public and private institutional policies and start reducing it.

Diabesity starts with obesity. More than 78 million Americans are thought to be obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Along with heart disease and stroke, obesity can lead to diabetes. In order to reduce its incidence, prevalence and recurrence, and to prevent complications from diabesity, multiple issues needed to be worked on.

Diabesity is very expensive, not only in terms of what it costs to treat, but also in terms of lost productivity, the emotional toll it takes and the loss of financial security it causes.

In California, 25 percent of the population suffers from this condition. The numbers are higher in the Central Valley. We must consider this an emergency and begin engaging not only the patients but also their families, health care providers, health care institutions, pharmacies and government organizations to turn aside this epidemic.

Solutions include better nutrition education, weight management, easy access to health care, cheaper treatments, cheaper home-grown produce, diabetic deli options for busy people, increased emphasis on physical activity (starting in childhood), downsizing fast-food portions and avoiding sugary soft drinks. We need a National Diabetic Registry and local diabetic coalition to integrate private and public resources for achieving the control over this growing pandemic.

Don’t look away from partner violence

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “one in every four women and one of every seven men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner at some point in their lifetimes.”

Intimate partner violence does not discriminate. Your race, sexual preference, creed or income level will not preclude your inclusion in this demographic. Recent scenarios, including that of NFL player Ray Rice, are indicators that we still have a long way to go in taking this matter seriously.

“Why doesn’t he/she just leave” is a common question. That is not an option for some victims for the simple reason that sometimes it is more dangerous to leave. Victims have to gather their bruised bodies and tattered self-esteem to plan their escape to safety. They often have no access to money. Their identification papers are hidden by their abuser and often they don’t even have enough privacy to make a phone call.

Children are deeply affected by this violence. In many cases, they might be drawn to violent partners and/or may become abusers themselves later in life.

How do we combat this issue? Simply, we must counsel our sons and daughters that violence is never OK. Love shouldn’t hurt physically or emotionally. Our schools must become open to having trained advocates speak at assemblies so we can start this conversation early and have it often. There are resources. Speak out; don’t be a bystander. If you suspect someone might be a victim of intimate partner violence, speak with them privately and offer help. No more.

Reflections on the Rim fire, one year and counting

Was it a drug cartel? Was it forest rangers burning marijuana, sparks from falling rocks? Or was it a deer hunter warming soup? It took authorities a year to charge Keith Matthew Emerald of Columbia with starting the deadly Rim fire that burned 400 square miles for nine weeks last year. In that time, the people of the Mother Lode came up with all kinds of scenarios to explain how such a devastating catastrophe began. Pot growers, careless Forest Service workers, a vengeful mother nature, crazy firebugs – they all flowed from the imaginations of distressed residents.

Emerald has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. But he also signed a confession that described his unattended soup can; a confession he now says was forced. No charges should ever be leveled before an investigation is complete. But authorities could have done more to quell the rumors and allay the fears running rampant in the Mother Lode; especially as we face another extremely dry season in the mountains.

Fiercely independent mountain people seem to have an innate distrust of government, starting with the Forest Service. Staying mum as each possible scenario was eliminated didn’t help diminish that distrust. It will take generations to heal and rebuild what has been lost to fire. By being more open and transparent in such instances, the Forest Service should start now rebuilding the trust needed to be effective in our mountain communities.

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