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Critique of Article: Turning Back the Clock

The prosperous society is the society of healthy citizens. In the nineteenth century people died of infections and suffered from unsanitary conditions, today the society faces the consequences of improper nutrition and lifestyle.

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The research by King, Mainous and Geesey presents data about the influence of healthy habits on the rates of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and mortality among adults aged 45-64. The results of the research are significant as it involves 15,708 participants, which is enough to summarize them for the society. The authors properly chose the participants who represented male and female, different education levels, income rates and race. These groups allow designating the impact of healthy habits on different groups and quantitatively estimate it. Only 8.5 percent of middle-aged adults practice healthy lifestyles and only 8.4 percent newly adopt them. The statement corresponds to the data from Tulchinsky and Varavikova who claim that 66 percent of U.S. adults are obese. In summary, it would be reasonable to separate obese people with body mass index (BMI) over 30 in a group, and include the data of hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol and CVD rates within the group. The rates for the group can be high.

The healthy habits in the research include diets high in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. We should comment on the selection of habits that represent healthy lifestyle. Regular moderate exercise, nonsmoking, and maintaining a healthy weight are doubtless health habits. Healthy nutrition habit as presented by King et al. is consumption of five fruits and vegetables daily. However, the authors do not take into account food frequency and safety, fat and fiber intake, types of fruits and vegetables consumed, and nutrients optimizations (vitamins and microelements). Tulchinsky and Varavikova indicate these as the significant components of public health.  Food frequency, fat and fiber intake can seriously affect the BMI, hypertension, cholesterol level, and risk of diabetes. Nutrients optimization can reduce the risk of CVD.

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King et al. indicate the race as “African American” and “not African American”. The database used for the research classified the population as black/non-black. Thus, interpreting the results for “other than African Americans” one should take into consideration the fact that the group includes Europeans, Asians and other non black races.

The article proved that midlife switch to four healthy habits results in reduction of mortality and CVD, and adoption of three habits brings reduction of mortality. The authors identify people that are more likely to adopt the healthy lifestyles in the middle age. These are educated women other than African Americans with high income and without a history of diabetes and hypertension. The goal of community health program is to involve people who appear to be less predisposed to healthy habits adoption. As healthy lifestyle is a personal choice, the most effective way is outreach. People can barely adopt healthy habits at middle age. Therefore, they have to know about and adopt the habits earlier. The educational programs can inculcate habits, for instance, lessons about healthy lifestyle and nutrition at high school or a one-time lesson at a university fitness center. Diagnostic and treatment centers should distribute posters or handout materials and offer one-time lesson about healthy lifestyle for people diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol or CVD. The cookshops at schools and universities should offer a portion of a fruit and a vegetable accompanying the main meal.

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The article proved correlation between healthy habits and health at middle age. Further studies need to be accomplished to improve the understanding of nutrition effect (e.g. food safety, vitamins, fat and fiber intake) on community health. The investigation of the race impact should also be continued.  Since the young age is the best to make the healthy lifestyle habitual, educational programs are significant. These are the means for community health development.

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