Gupta: Meds can't cure poor lifestyle
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is best known for his work with the CNN television news network, where he serves as chief medical correspondent.
Gupta, 43, is an assistant professor of neurosurgery and a practicing trauma neurosurgeon at Emory University's Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
Since joining CNN in 2001 as part of the team reporting on events surrounding 9/11, Gupta has become a high-profile media figure on health, the medical arena and a broad range of health-related issues. In addition to his regular TV reporting, Gupta hosts the weekend medical-affairs program “House Call With Dr. Sanjay Gupta.”
He shared his thoughts on a variety of health issues.
Question: Why do Americans struggle so much with obesity?
Answer: The health illiteracy rate in our country is higher than people realize. There is no single answer. It is beyond “eat less, exercise more” — that is not a bad message; it is just not complete. Not all calories are the same, for example, and this has meaning for weight loss.
Not all exercise has equal benefit either. Intense exercise in the morning, for example, and getting your heart rate over a certain level can actually be damaging as opposed to beneficial.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about American medicine today?
Answer: We've done such a good job at some things — heart research and cancer, for example, and childhood leukemia, which used to lead to imminent fatality; today survival rates of some forms are up into the 90th percentile.
In some ways, I think people can think they can live careless lifestyles (regarding diet, exercise, risky sexual behavior) and count on medicine to reverse or take care of these things. It just doesn't work that way.
By 2020, it is estimated that more than half the country will be pre-diabetic or diabetic. The health care system will not be able to handle the surge of patients.
Q: What do we need to get better at regarding our own health care?
Answer: With medicine and health, many people seem so willing to hand off the decision-making to others. You learn more about your schools and your supermarkets than your hospitals. Many don't research hospital emergency rooms in their community in advance of ever having to make that visit. People may not know capability of facilities in their community.
It really comes down to being engaged.
Q: What are some good online sources that you feel comfortable recommending?
One caution I offer, however, is that people often go searching for information that will validate their opinion. Given the vast array of information out there, they'll likely find that, and the information may contradict what they are told by their doctor. It could be good information, but it may not be. I really suggest caution.
Michael J. Solender is a staff writer for The Charlotte Observer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.