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Doctor Discusses Nation's Crumbling Health in Rye

RYE, N.Y. – Greenwich Hospital's Medical Director of Integrative Medicine Henri Roca delivered an analysis Wednesday at the Rye Free Reading Room of what he considers to be a grim outlook on the nation's current health and health care system.

According to Roca, the health care system in its current capacity is far more flawed than people realize. With the cost of health care increasing and the overall health of Americans as a whole decreasing, Roca said he urges Americans to reshape the way they think about health.

"How we define health care has nothing to do with health and everything to do with illness," Roca said. "So our language, our concept, our perception of how the world of health is organized is totally skewed."

Since 1990, the obesity rate in the United States has quadrupled from 6.7 percent to 33.8 percent, a figure Roca believes to be directly related to a breakdown in eating habits. According to Roca, in 1970 more than 90 percent of meals were prepared and eaten at home. In 2000, he said, that number fell to 50 percent. Roca also stated that as obesity rates increase, so will the rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

"The way we practice medicine is what's driving this problem mostly," Roca said. "We name it and then we try to tame it with medication. As people pay less, the health care rates go up exponentially, so when we don't have to pay for it we don't pay attention to our health. We expect that this is something we are going to receive. Ultimately, the way to shift that is put some of the responsibility back to the individual."

Roca believes a lack of accountability on the part of the individual and most specifically their eating habits, is what's driving the health care crisis. Roca said he also believes that the way to correct the health care crisis begins with restoring health nationwide through a combination of dietary changes, stress management and physical activity.

"We need to shift our current practice of medicine towards the evidence of prevention," Roca said. "It's like taking the elephant and saying I'm going to look at it from a different point of view. You have to say I don't want the conversation to be about my disease, I want it to be about my health. The conversation needs to be about how to maintain and enhance your health."

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