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Aug 31st
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Town Hall with Sen. Bill Monning

bill MonningHow do poor health and nutrition (and its outcomes, such as obesity and diabetes) impact our local economies and workforces?

Obesity, preventable diabetes, and other chronic conditions are all costly diseases that can stem from poor health and nutrition. Obesity has been linked to an increased incidence of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. These conditions account for as much as $209.7 billion a year in U.S. medical expenditures, or 20.6 percent of all money spent on healthcare in the United States.

In addition to the healthcare costs that local economies must absorb, obesity-related conditions have indirect costs, such as decreasing worker productivity. The institution of public health strategies aimed at preventing obesity and other chronic diseases can help to reverse the negative health impacts that can reduce life expectancy, the quality of life, and the economy as a whole.

How important will improving Californians’ health be to the future of the state?

Improving health and wellbeing is critical, but often overlooked. If the state can achieve a modest reduction in the prevalence of obesity and increase Californians’ physical activity by just 5 percent a year, the savings achieved would be approximately $2.4 billion annually.

In order to achieve these savings and improve Californians’ health, we need to invest in a variety of public health measures designed to promote healthy eating and physical activity. For example, there are many disadvantaged neighborhoods where there is limited access to healthful foods and safe recreation. Opening markets, parks, and even community gardens in these neighborhoods can have lasting positive health impacts and lead to improved health outcomes. 

What needs to change to improve the societal burdens incurred from these conditions?

Current trends in preventable illness and disease are leading to reduced life expectancy and poor quality of life. Our current healthcare system has been built on the treatment of illness and disease and we need a paradigm shift that will focus on the promotion of health and wellness. To achieve this goal, more must be invested in public health campaigns that protect people’s health, as well as guard against the impacts of massive market saturation of unhealthful products. For federal healthcare reform to succeed in building healthier communities, health promotion and illness prevention is key.    

How does your proposed soda tax fit into this?

Senate Bill 622, a proposed tax on sugary drinks, is not a cure-all, but it can be a valuable tool in a broader public health campaign. The evidence is conclusive—sugary drinks are the leading contributor of increased caloric intake among children. Current consumption trends have been documented as a leading cause in childhood obesity and preventable chronic diseases. By taxing these harmful products it is anticipated there would be a reduction in product consumption, similar to what has been achieved through the implementation of increased taxes on tobacco. The proposed sugar-sweetened beverage tax would generate an estimated $1.7 billion a year that would be directed exclusively to combat childhood obesity by providing financial resources to local schools and community-based programs to promote physical education, nutrition and wellness programs.

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Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

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