The reporter discusses non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, for which there is no treatment other than lifestyle changes – diet and exercise. A more advanced condition, known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), wasn't even seen 30 years ago, but now threatens the lives of about 5 million Americans.
What's alarming, in addition to the rapid rise of the condition among children and teens, is this final paragraph of the piece:
“A lot of times when I see a patient with fatty liver,” he said, “the first thing out of their mouth is, ‘Well, is there a pill for this?’ And there’s not. There just isn’t. You have to make lifestyle changes, and that’s a much more difficult pill for people to swallow.”
The desire and willingness on the patient's part to medicate him or herself bothers me a lot. Patients are quoted in the article as saying, "It's hard," referring to giving up sugar and eating more vegetables.
When sugary snacks are cheap and readily available, it is hard, especially for young people. And yet our government subsidizes factory farms and manufacturers of food like substances – you know, the folks who produce high-fructose corn syrup – and makes smaller organic farmers pay extra for the privilege of providing fresh, wholesome, natural food.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
I compare it – loosely – to the problem we have here in West Virginia with our political leaders' positions on coal. The major party players are pro-coal and anti-EPA. We have raped our mountaintops in the name of coal, sending sludge into the rivers and valleys and fouling the air. Miners and their families are sick, but where else would they work if it weren't for King Coal?
But those major players continue to fight for those dwindling jobs, just as other politicians in Washington continue to fight for the right of Big Agriculture and Big Food to make their constituents sick. And they encourage Big Pharma to find a treatment (not a cure, oh, no, because a cure would mean eradicating the disease and then who would buy the medicine?) for a condition which can be reversed at no cost.
Well, it would be at some cost to snack-food and soda manufacturers.
Diet and exercise. How often have we heard that lifestyle changes can do more good than a pill in a bottle? It comes down to this:
How invested are we – as a country – in our people?
I would say … sadly … not very.