Notes from the Road: Rocky Mountain Edition

Leadville Colorado

While taking some time out to enjoy the Holiday Season out in Denver and Twin Lakes Colorado, I thought I would post some happenings in the world of Public Health, like Public Health Certification and the New York State DOH Comish on Youtube… and maybe some things that are not., like the Leadville 100…

NYS-DOH Comish Selling the Soda Tax

Dr. Daines, the New York State Department of Health Commissioner took to the viral airwaves to sell Governor Paterson’s proposed Soda Tax (below)

Daines did not receive great reviews for his efforts, Fred LeBrun of the Albany Times Union penned Health commissioner’s effort to sell soda tax falls flat, in which he says:

One of the constant wonders of our times is how really bright people like our state health commissioner can come up with remarkably dumb ideas like trying to sell to the masses a wildly unpopular fat tax on soft drinks through a simplistic YouTube presentation.

Dr. Richard Daines says the idea came to him at 5 a.m. To which I can only say no more pepperoni pizzas after midnight for you, doctor.

Of course, the public overreacted to Dr. Daines’ video, but that was to be anticipated. Unquestionably there is, after all, an appropriate public health issue at the heart of this silliness. Dr. Daines quotes a figure of several billion dollars as the cost of obesity to the health care system, a price we all share. So we all have a stake.

But coming up with a public health plan to deal with childhood and adult obesity as a societal as well as a personal issue strikes me as immensely complicated, requiring finesse and guile. Before the state embarks on any sort of campaign, whether disguising a general tax or not, the subject demands a heck of a lot more thought and preparation than it got in this video.

Using the media to carry the message only works effectively when we have a pretty good idea of what specific changes are desired, of how we can engage the public appropriately, and how we can quantify the results.

Dr. Daines should farm this one out to the high-priced folks in advertising and marketing.

The same ones, incidentally, who have done such a marvelous job in selling the American people on canned soft drinks in the first place.

Certified in Public Health

The National Board of Public Health Examiners recently certified 500 public health professionals as Certified in Public Health (CPH)  in their inaugural examination. The second public health certification exam will be held August 8-29, 2009. Registration is currently open. For more information, visit

The National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) was established in September 2005 as an independent organization, the purpose of which is to ensure that students and graduates from schools and programs of public health accredited by the Council on Education of Public Health (CEPH) have mastered the knowledge and skills relevant to contemporary public health. This purpose will be accomplished by developing, preparing, administering and evaluating a voluntary certification exam.

We are among the schools accredited by the NBPHE.  I’m not really sure what the NBPHE certification offers…. if you know, feel free to comment.

Leadville 100

I remember thinking around mile 13 of the NYC Marathon, that no human being would want run more than a marathon.  Well looks like I was wrong.  While spending sometime in the town of Twin Lakes Colorado, next to Leadville, I was made aware of the Leadville 100.  What’s the Leadville 100 you ask?

From Wikipedia:

The Leadville Trail 100 Ultramarathon (aka The Race Across The Sky or the LT100), first run in 1983, is an ultramarathon held annually on trails and dirt roads at high altitude west and south of Leadville, Colorado, through the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The course is difficult, with runners climbing and descending 15,600 feet, with elevations ranging between 9,200-12,620 feet. Because of its difficulty, it is common for less than half the starters to complete the race ahead of its 30 hour time limit.

Yeah… so bike 100 miles, sure – run? That’s a whole other level… plus the air up here really does impact you, regardless of your condition, if you haven’t spent a significant amount of time here.  How does this relate to public health? Running is good for you, especially if you’re like me and down the eggnog this time of year.

Finishers of the race are awarded belt buckles instead of medals, like the one pictured here.

Finishers of the race are awarded belt buckles instead of medals, like the one pictured here.

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