Monthly Archives: April 2011

New policies for Health Promotion: examples from the NYC Bloomberg administration. Too much “in your face”?

Some have argued that the NYC health promotion strategies implemented under the Bloomberg administration are too much “in your face”, as too direct and intrusive into the private sphere. I will leave this issue aside and open for reflection for the moment, and note instead that all these policies are aimed not at changing individual behavior alone, but are directed towards the food industry, the rationale being that in order to be effective they need to influence the social context in which the individuals are embedded. This reasoning is in line with the recent April 2011 editorial by the Journal of Public Health Policy . The editors Anthony Robbins (Tufts) and Marion Nestle (NYU)
encouraged authors to submit articles with new strategies aimed at tackling the obesity epidemic, but focused on considering how to change the behavior of the food industry, not of the individuals. As put by the editors, “We have come to believe that research studies concentrating on personal behavior and responsibility as causes of the obesity epidemic do little but offer cover to an industry seeking to downplay its own responsibility”. In other words, paraphrasing emeritus epidemiologist at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Geoffrey Rose, “Mass diseases and mass exposures require mass remedies”. Policies aimed at influencing only individual behaviors will not make the trick. NYC Bloomberg’s policies may do so. Even if they may be too much in your face. Continue reading

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Pharmacopoeia, or how many pills do we take in a lifetime? A Wellcome Trust exhibition at the British Museum.

How many pills do you normally take every day? And how many pills do you take in your lifetime? and what is the average number of pills that a person takes in his or her own lifetime in the UK? These sort of questions may not be the kind of questions that we ask ourselves everyday, but if you just stop for a second and think about it you’ll realize soon that the answer may be a surprisingly big number: 14,000 pills! and to note, this does not include over-the counter pills.
As big numbers may be difficult to visualize, and that is exactly what the Cradle to graveinstallation currently at the British Museum aims to do. The installation, artwork of textile artist Susie Freeman and family doctor Liz Lee, is part of a bigger project called Pharmacopoiea that started in 1998, when Freeman and Lee received the Wellcome Trust Sciart Award. Continue reading

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Methodology in Philosophical Bioethics: a special issue of the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

Using the case of genetic enhancement in sports as our case study, we tested Häyry’s claim about the polite bystander view of the philosopher in the bioethical arena and argued that, on the contrary, philosophers are not, and definitely should not, remain out of assessing the rationality of the available alternative approaches. Quite on the contrary, philosophers should undertake the necessary confrontation required when a moral position underpins a practical decision, as the decisions concerning the permissibility of genetic enhancement in professional sports, or the permissibility of other biotechnological interventions, are. Even if moral disagreement will persist, this is not a good reason for philosopher to watch and stand by. Rather, it is a good reason for philosopher to enter into the arena of political philosophy and to come up with tool of deliberative democracy to deal with the moral disagreement.
Continue reading

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