I’ve been interested in health and nutrition since I started playing high school sports.  During my 3 year stint as a personal trainer, I developed a distinct opinion of the Body Mass Index (or BMI – the most widely used anthropomorphic measurement in medicine):  it’s not a very good tool. My issue with BMI began here – it doesn’t actually measure a person’s body fat or lean mass, but rather is ...

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As a medical student who just completed this third year of training, I took special interest in Dr. Pauline Chen’s recent article about Harvard Medical School’s “Integrated Clerkship” – a program that eliminates traditional block-style clerkships and asks students to follow a panel of “up to 100 patients” longitudinally over the course of a year in order to emphasize continuity of care and the humanistic aspects of medicine.  ...

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In recent years, childhood overweight and obesity statistics have received a good deal of media attention, but this has done little to slow their rise.  Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that nearly 1 in 5 children aged 2-19 are obese.  Even more concerning, since 1980 obesity rates have tripled in the 6-11 and 12-19 age groups. Bearing the burden of the uphill battle against childhood obesity Our ...

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The study of medicine can be overwhelming.  We’ve simply discovered too much for one person to master completely.  This is the challenge medical educators are tasked with – what’s so important that it must be allotted time in the brief 2 years of dedicated book learning doctors-to-be receive? Students face a similar time-management challenge – first, we must decide what’s important enough to focus on, but the real question I think ...

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In the past decade, the incidence of diabetes in the U.S. has nearly doubled – this is due in large part to the obesity epidemic.  Currently, it is estimated that the lifetime risk of developing diabetes is around 1 in 3 for males an 2 in 5 for females born after 2000.  When you consider that type II diabetes has a strong genetic component – the risk for a ...

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Recently, a friend sent me a text message with a rather conservative back-of-the-envelope calculation putting the number of lecture slides we’ve seen since October 2009 at roughly 41,000. That got me thinking:  how many questions have I answered in that same time period? Here’s the conservative estimate, not including quizzes, workshops, and miscellaneous other goodies: with roughly 100 questions per exam, an average of an exam every 3 weeks, and accounting for a few weeks ...

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When a patient shows up for a doctor’s appointment with a companion, I often find myself studying (and later, interacting with) them as much as I do the patient.  Most times, a quick review of body language is all I need to make an assessment – is this person looking out for the interests of the patient?  Are they here begrudgingly, or out of concern?  Are they indifferent, or ...

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Taking a trip to the grocery store can be more dangerous than you’d think. Waiting for you in each and every aisle are marketing ploys aimed at suppressing your better reasoning, the ultimate result being you making poor dietary or financial decisions – whether you know it or not (enter the 100 calorie pack, my arch nemesis, right behind diet soda).  But it doesn’t have to be that way – ...

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As I finished my 24-hour call recently, I was reminded of a 2009 study revealing a decline in empathy as medical students transition from their mostly-didactic second year to third year, which is essentially an apprenticeship in the hospital with lecture as an afterthought.  I began my third year with what most would argue is the most difficult rotation, surgery, and my experiences over ...

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The USDA has recently released it’s new concept, the food plate, to replace the iconic food pyramid it introduced in 1992 (and modified in 2005). At its release, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack criticized the food pyramid for being "too complex to serve as a quick and easy guide for American families" – I completely agree, and have always felt this way.  The food pyramid was the ...

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