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Our current acting Surgeon General, Boris Lushniak MD MPH, gave a rousing address to the attendees at the United States Breastfeeding Coalition conference held in Arlington, VA on August 4. His main message? Let’s go retro!
Dr Lushniak spoke about 3 “retro” actions that he believes will improve the health of the nation:
Walking, Cooking at home and Breastfeeding
Walking: What is retro? We used to walk everywhere we went: to school, to shop, to visit friends. Cars were for long trips. Not anymore. We tend to get in the car and drive everywhere we need to go. We might even drive our car from one end of the shopping center to the other if we go to both ends for the stores we want to visit. We could walk. Americans need to get out of their cars and walk more. And we can walk more just for fun and recreation.
Cooking: What is retro? Home cooked meals. And back in the day they were prepared from local ingredients. Not anymore. Americans are relying more and more on fast foods, precooked foods and convenience foods. These often have been processed so they have minimal nutritional content and fiber. They also often contain unhealthy amounts of salt, sugar and fat, and they cost more.
Home cooking affords the family the benefit of fresh foods prepared at the time of the meal to preserve the most nutrient value. It also usually means that the family sits down to eat together. In a busy family this may be the only time in the day that the family unit is together to talk and share.
Breastfeeding: What is retro? Every baby was breastfed for extended periods of time. The only alternative was a wet nurse. Not anymore. Artificial baby milk is everywhere. We are coming out of a period when breastfeeding was in severe decline. Thankfully, that has turned around and national breastfeeding rates are climbing to over 77%. We know well the benefits to the health of the baby and mother. There are also benefits to the family and cost savings to the health care system.
So let’s go retro by walking more, cooking more at home and breastfeeding!