A Healthy You: Part Two

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This January, on Physician Focus: From left: B. Dale Magee, M.D., Medical students Mitchell Li, Matthew DeWolf

In December’s Physician Focus, we examined the effects that physical activity and exercise can have on your health – the benefits to your heart and circulatory system and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in check, among other advantages.

Consider January’s episode a part two for a healthier you. Overweight and obesity are now major public health problems for more Americans of all ages, leading to high rates of such chronic conditions as diabetes and heart disease. Much of that burden comes from the lifestyles we lead – how active or inactive we are and – especially - what and how much we eat.

Doctor’s Rx: Healthy Eating looks at the critical role that diet plays in health, by focusing on an innovative program in Worcester, Mass. developed by three enterprising medical students at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The program is called WooFood (Woo coming from the City of Worcester), and it’s a certification program for restaurants with the goal of making the healthy choice the easy choice for restaurant customers.

Mitchell Li and Matthew DeWolf, two of WooFood’s founders, appear on the show to describe the effort and why they, despite a rigorous academic schedule as medical students, decided to set up such a program. Hosting this edition is B. Dale Magee, M.D., a Shrewsbury physician, past president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and former commissioner of public health for the City of Worcester.

WooFood, says Li, is based on the concept of “choice architecture,” that is, people make choices based on how those choices are presented to them. The essential point is this: If the healthy choices are few or none, then people have less opportunity to eat healthy.

WooFood’s intent, working with the owners and chefs of local restaurants, is to incorporate healthy choices for patrons – dinners with more vegetables, more whole grains, and less salt, sugar, and saturated fats.

DeWolf hits at the heart of the issue, recognizing that a person’s health is dependent on much more than just a visit to the doctor: “While most people may see their physician once or twice a year,” he says, “the daily choices people are making have a huge influence on their health.”

I invite you to join us in January for a look at WooFood, a program that’s making a difference in people’s health. After viewing, you just might bring a different perspective to the next restaurant you visit – and make “dinner for now, tomorrow’s chow.”

Photo: This January, on Physician Focus: From left: B. Dale Magee, M.D., Medical students Mitchell Li, Matthew DeWolf