Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Herd immunity

Here's an interesting post from Jay Parkinson, a doc who is big into Public Health.  In it, he talks about immunizing children for chicken pox.  According to him, chicken pox deaths are way down! Especially, in kids less than one year old.  The interesting part of that is that kids don't get the chicken pox vaccine when they are less than one year old.....older kids who are vaccinated are keeping these young ones free of the disease!!  This is because there aren't as many carriers and all children are less likely to come into contact with the virus in the first place.  The more kids get vaccinated, the healthier all of them will be.  They call this herd immunity -- neat, huh?

The thing about it is, even for our weight control, there is a bit of herd immunity that could protect us from the lifestyle diseases that come along with overeating.  If you have a group of friends that likes to play tennis, you are much more likely to spend a larger percentage of your time together on the courts and not a Applebee's.  You might do Applebee's too -- but the time you spend there will be less.

Have you noticed that the number of runners, bikers, and walkers is greater this year than in years past?  It's my unofficial assessment, so take it with a grain of salt, but I really think there are more people outside moving this year.

What that does for all of us is raise our awareness that we, too, could be out there moving.  It might not impact your behavior right away but you will be influenced by it as the trend grows.

Same goes for when you serve you and your family on small plates.  It becomes normal for you all to eat less -- there is less of a chance you will get up and fill your plate for the third or fourth time when you aren't hungry (it involves too much work vs. the amount of pleasure you get from the food you don't want).  It won't take long before small plates are the norm and everyone is eating a bit less because of it.

Herd immunity.  The more you engage in healthy behaviors, the more you create a world I and others can be successful in our attempts at healthy behavior changes.

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