Departing medic calls for wellness focus
A family doctor has called for more resources for health programmes to help tackle the island’s chronic illness problems.
Caren Griffith-Fadlin, who has seen the difference similar programmes had on her patients, said more focus in this area would reduce healthcare costs.
Dr Fadlin said: “At the end of the day, 75 per cent of the Bermuda population is overweight or obese.
“That is huge and we know that obesity is directly linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and therefore heart attacks, heart disease and stroke.
“We are spending so much money on secondary healthcare — what about shifting that now and putting more resources into those centres that are now helping people to hold on to their wellness?”
She said this would lead to fewer payouts for medical costs and “more importantly, you will have a healthier population where people are now leading healthier lives and their quality of life is so much better”.
Dr Fadlin, who worked at Bermuda Wellness and Outreach Centre for almost three years, is now moving to California, where she plans to complete a master’s degree in public health.
She said: “I really appreciated working in Bermuda so much. One of the great things I was happy to witness was insurance companies coming on board and covering wellness programmes.”
Dr Fadlin said Argus and BF&M had led the way in making wellness programmes more accessible and called on others to follow their lead.
She added: “I’m really hoping to see them do that because that in and of itself is going to make a great difference.”
She said a tax on high-sugar items and junk food and a reduction in the cost of healthier options such as fruits and vegetables would also lead to a big change but she said the Government could do more.
Dr Fadlin added she had noticed increased interest in wellness programmes during her time in Bermuda.
She said: “A lot of people are looking for a solution but they are not sure where they are going to find it, what it’s going to look like and if they can afford it.
“I think where there is a fall down sometimes is the knowhow or if this is really going to work.”
Dr Fadlin, whose primary role was helping patients with weight problems, explained part of the problem was the easy availability of food high in fats and carbohydrates.
She added: “Your eyes don’t want what they don’t see. We are in an environment that is pushing a lot of options at people that are unhealthy. And the culture, which is another big thing, encourages that.”
Dr Fadlin said behaviour change was key to keeping the pounds off.
She added: “The solution lies at the core of things, which is to really work harder on helping people to change that lifestyle, change that culture of eating habits, exercise and improve their mental wellbeing.
“One of the really big things I have been able to see here is the ability to reverse certain medical conditions, to reverse disease.”
Dr Fadlin said she had seen patients’ cholesterol and blood pressure levels drop, while others had gone from “severely diabetic” to pre-diabetic and able to come off medication or avoid starting it.
She added: “Some of it just has to do with changing your way of looking at things, changing your way of thinking and just being moderate.
“Why do you need to drink three or four shots of alcohol? They’ve never thought about that, sometimes they really can’t come up with an answer.”
Dr Fadlin said: “The food is controlling you. What about you controlling it? When you begin to think from that level, that is where behaviour change can begin to take place.
She also worked with patients to find ways to help them achieve weight loss and provided assistance to help them maintain it.
Dr Fadlin said: “You’re not only recognising a problem but you are effecting a solution that you can actually enact and that makes a very big difference.”
She added it was also important to focus on the benefits of healthier living.
Dr Fadlin said: “Sometimes you become so overtaken with what you’ve lost or given up but not what you have gained.”
She added she would like to return to Bermuda one day.
Dr Fadlin said: “I am so grateful for the opportunity to have served here and I just wish everyone the best.”
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