New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his latest health initiative this week: He's banning elevators! OK, not really. But he did say he was planning to introduce legislation that would inspire New Yorkers to take the stairs by making staircases in buildings more accessible.
As with all of Bloomberg's noble health-conscious initiatives, which have included banning trans-fats and trying to curb super-sized, nutrition-less sodas, the announcement was met with a contingent of eye-rolls. From my colleague Tina Susman's story:
"I might go down the stairs, but if there's an elevator, why in the world would I want to walk up stairs?" Felicity Moore said, aghast, when asked if she might be more inclined to climb steps in an office building if signs encouraged her to do so.
If the City Council actually approves Bloomberg's plan, you can expect nanny-state objectors to come out in full force.
But Bloomberg doesn't care about the haters. He's on a mission to help cure obesity, a national epidemic linked to such deadly conditions as diabetes and heart disease, by implementing laws and programs that encourage critical lifestyle changes.
His battle of the bulge may benefit New Yorkers in another meaningful way too.
According to two observational studies in Europe, healthier lifestyles may decrease dementia. Gwen Ifill of PBS' "NewsHour" spoke to Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor at Duke University School of Medicine, about the findings on Wednesday's program. An excerpt from the encouraging segment:
The so-called silver tsunami that we have all been scared of has just downgraded from grade five to grade four.
So, the key thing to keep in mind is we're not out of the woods, but what these two studies are telling us is that successive generations or even slightly younger cohorts separated by as little as 10 years apart may not have the same risk.
So in other words, our children or our grandchildren may not have the same risk for Alzheimer's that we do. The second thing I think that these studies are pointing out is if the risk for Alzheimer's is going down with successive generations, then that is good news because it indicates that it is likely to be due to environmental or lifestyle effects.
In other words, many of the public health interventions that have been put into place since the 1970s, such as encouraging Americans and people all over the world to exercise more, cutting down on smoking, the disappearance of the Marlboro Man, if you will, eating healthier, and indeed better education, I think all of these things might be having an effect. [Note: Emphasis my own.]
There are studies that have been done in Sweden, in the U.S., in many countries that show the same essential decreasing incidence rates, if you will, for Alzheimer's in successive generations.
That said, these are also called observational studies, so these are not clinical trials, where people are sort of randomly assigned to different treatment arms. So, we cannot be sure, but I think the signs from all these different studies in multiple countries all are pointing in the same direction.
See, life coach Bloomberg is onto something!
You can watch the entire segment below.