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The Healthiest Nation on Earth

By Dr. Sujatha Prabhakaran

There has been a lot of talk recently from both sides of the aisle about American exceptionalism.  Arguments abound back and forth about who really believes in American exceptionalism and what is really means.  One thing is for sure, a lot of Americans believe the U.S. to be an exceptional nation.  And I believe in many great ways, we are.  However, in one very important we way, we are not.  American exceptionalism does not extend to our health, but that doesn’t mean it can’t. 

Why isn’t health one of the things on which we compete with other nations?  We as a nation certainly have the resources to be the healthiest nation in the world.  So lets make it happen. 

One tenet of the National Prevention Strategy is empowerment of people.  I was very happy to see this.  Until people feel empowered to control their own health we won’t be able to improve our nation’s health  

One way to empower individuals is to inspire them to contribute to a greater cause.  For one of the first times in history, we have no well-defined enemy that unites us.  We are not embroiled in WWI or WWII where shared sacrifice was needed to get through.  No great depression.  No cold war.  While it is good to live in a time where these are not a reality, it does tend to make patriotism a little less about national unity and more about individual liberty.  While individual freedom is unnegotiably a foundation of American success, it has been argued (successfully I believe) that exercising our individual liberties isn’t usually what makes us happy and successful beings.  Working together for a cause is.  Maybe we need to seize this opportunity and unite around the positive cause of making ourselves the healthiest nation in the world.   



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