Young people, in particular, love nature. They defend it fiercely from fossil fuels and carbon-spewing power plants. They happily reject plastic shopping bags and insist on organic produce.
You would think that this would translate into excellent health. After all, every individual human being is responsible for the one tiny piece of nature that is his or her body.
What does it say if you are willing to go to the mat to defend the Delta smelt but treat your own body like something to use and abuse until it wears out?
For the sake of argument I will assume that when it comes to enhanced environmental awareness young Americans and young Western Europeans are on roughly the same page.
If so, the health of younger European adults will correlate reasonably with that of their American peers..
The Daily Mail reported the results of the most recent and comprehensive study of the health of today’s adults:
Today's adults are so unhealthy they are 15 years 'older' than their parents and grandparents at the same age, researchers say.
They are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity than previous generations because of poor health, according to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Looking at 6,000 adults aged 20, 30, 40, 50 over a 25 year period, researchers found younger generations had poorer 'metabolic' health - a range of issues including blood pressure and weight.
The study revealed men in their 30s were 20 per cent more likely to be overweight than in previous generations, while women in their 20s are twice as likely to be obese than those 10 years ago.
Blood pressure also increased among the younger generation of both men and women, while younger blokes are more likely to have diabetes than their dads and granddads were.
Why more diabetes? The study suggests that since fewer young people smoke, they compensate by overeating. Being more obese they run a greater risk of contracting diabetes.
Some people eat to self-medicate. Others overeat because they do not understand the need for self-control.
Americans are notoriously obese, but they believe firmly in not putting any artificial chemicals into their bodies.
Yet, these same Americans have no problem taking large doses of inorganic, synthetic chemicals when they are called medication.
Linda Carroll reports for Today:
Can’t sleep? Take a pill to knock you out. Problems focusing? Take a pill to boost your attention. Feel edgy? Take a pill to calm you down.
While there is no question that modern medicines help us manage pain and save lives by staving off potentially fatal illnesses like heart disease, there can be a darker side to prescription drugs that can sometimes lead to addiction, and even death.
These days Americans are taking more prescription medications than ever, with nearly 16 million scripts written for painkillers like hydrocodone, oxycodone and tramadol each year, according to IMS Health. A full 5 million prescriptions are written for sleep aids, while 18 million are written for anti-depressants, according to the healthcare information company.
Dr. Jeffrey Avron of the Harvard Medical School notes that we Americans are leading the world in drug consumption.
As Dr. Gail Saltz points out, we believe in quick fixes. But we also practice sloth. On the one hand we’re in a hurry. On the other, we are too lazy to take care of our bodies.
Too many Americans and Europeans are unwilling to put in the time and effort to stick to an exercise regimen and to develop healthy eating habits.
You know and I know, and Dr. Saltz confirms, that many cases of depression and anxiety and insomnia can be treated by good habits.
By using medication to control our moods we are abusing our bodies. We feel entitled to the body’s pleasures and we insist on suppressing the body’s pains.
By using biochemistry, we are trying to exert control over our bodies. If our bodies tell us something that we do not want to hear—as in, that we should change our diet or exercise more—we prefer to suppress the message with medication.