May is women's health month. image shows women running along a pier

Dr. Bitner on Fox 17: Women’s Health Month

May is Women’s Health Month, and this week on Fox 17, Dr. Bitner discusses women’s health and healthy aging in the United States. She recently traveled through Norway and was blown away by how fit people appeared to be there. Difficult hikes were completed with ease by locals. This apparent cultural difference was emphasized when she later spoke with a fellow passenger on her flight. The passenger, a 75-year-old woman, was in excellent health. She discussed that since childhood, her entire family would take a Sunday walk, and now she herself walks, works out, and climbs daily. The typical diet in Norway is also noticeably different than that in the United States. Their diet prioritizes fish and vegetables. Free school lunches for students are mostly vegetable based as well.   

Fact #1:

The US spends more on healthcare than other countries, and yet, we are more unhealthy. Norway has a lower rate of diabetes than the US (3.4% vs. 11.4%), a lower rate of obesity (24% vs. 69%), and Norway ranks 177th for the prevalence of heart disease in women vs. the US, which ranks 144th. The United States has room to improve healthy aging. 

Fact #2: 

Kids are 2x more likely to exercise if they see their parents and older relatives exercise. They are also more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they are readily available. Eating healthy does not have to be fancy or expensive.

Patient Story: 

Jane* was disappointed to learn that she had pre-diabetes and her weight had gone up again. She was feeling more tired, frustrated, and also concerned about her daughter’s activity levels. Jane created a competition with her family to focus on improved health. Their goals were to get 8000 steps per day and eat five servings of fruits or vegetables every day. They used a sticker chart to track their progress, and after a few weeks, Jane noticed a visible improvement in her entire family’s well-being.

Health Tip of the Week 

Making progress in your health journey starts with small changes. Dr. Bitner recommends setting attainable health goals and then slowly building from there. AllTrails is a great app for finding new parks and trails in your local area (and luckily, West Michigan has abundant green space). Making small changes now will impact future generations, and together, we can change the health narrative in the United States. 

Watch the full segment.