The Epic Health Challenges of Our Most Trusted Authorities

Did you know that your health is at risk every time you place it in someone else's hands? How much can you trust what you hear from your friends and family, read in books and online? What truth is seen on TV, in the news and online? It's YOUR health at stake... Shouldn't you know the risks?


When it comes to your health, who is the authority you look to for guidance? As children, we trusted our parents. As parents, we often look to professionals, realizing that we don’t always have the answers.

Family healthThis can be especially important in regards to our health. So children typically trust the ones they feel love them, their parents. That doesn’t necessarily change as we age, but as adults our trust is often placed in the hands of professionals.

Notice we skipped the teen years, when we generally don’t trust anyone. And ironically it’s during these years that many of our lifelong habits, good or bad, are formed.

The fact is, the longer we live the more we experience the pro’s and con’s of choices we’ve made, or that have been made for us. But there are more factors that influence our health. So it’s here that we can positively say “it’s not my fault,” at least not entirely. Why not?

family health protection plansIn addition to our choices, factors such as genetics, our environment, and our financial situation all have a bearing on how we take care of ourselves. And we can’t discount the effect of the media.

We are highly influenced by what we watch, read, and hear as it relates to our health. And then there are the “professionals.” Whether they are our family doctor or a government agency, it is their job to care for our health.

In this article I want to specifically address the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Before writing this article I had a pretty negative view of what they do regarding anything health related.

Fake health reportsMy views were definitely skewed by the media. However, the more I looked into how much the FDA is responsible for, the more I appreciated just how overburdened they are. Their task is monumental, and the implications of that are even scarier than I had initially thought.

The FDA is the governmental authority that is responsible for protecting public health by regulation and supervision of food safety. That’s the short version. Their areas of oversight are extensive and space doesn’t allow a full description. Suffice to say the FDA’s oversight includes foods we consume, drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter), tobacco, animal feed, veterinary practices, and more. You could safely say they never have a slow day.

Protection from diseaseBefore you read this article I’d like you to consider the following question. After reading the article see if you still feel the same way about your answer.

Do you feel the FDA is a good or bad authority regarding your personal health and well- being? Most likely you have an opinion. When you select your answer think of what your general feeling is regarding how well they are doing their job.

a. Good.
b. Bad.
c. Not really sure.

Since we live in a country where much of our food is mass-produced, it is a good thing to have an agency that oversees this. In fact, the more you read about the FDA the more comforted you may feel about what they do and how it impacts you personally. After all, if you’re like me, you’ve read about, listened to, and watched a lot of media that has given you a rather bad impression of this governmental agency.

Oh, and before I continue I want to be sure and mention that I am in no way for or against the FDA. They try and usually succeed at a nearly impossible job. The purpose of this article is to help enlighten you as to why so many products, drugs especially, have been approved by the FDA, only to be later recalled due to public safety issues.

The FDA responsibilities extend beyond the 50 states into other US territories and possessions

The accompanying box, a quote from the FDA website, gives an idea of just how far reaching their authority is. But it should also help you see just how large a task is placed on their shoulders.

Keeping that thought in mind will help you appreciate why they cannot possibly keep up with the demands of their office of oversight.

Imagine for a moment that you want to go to law school. We’ve all probably seen lawyers on TV and can appreciate the complexities of the law. We know that besides laws we are aware of, traffic laws for instance, there are many new laws introduced each year. Thousands of them. So a lawyer would need to be able to grasp many of these and do endless research on laws he is not familiar with.

Now you’ve passed the bar exam and want to do some good working for the FDA. Be prepared to sift through trillions, that’s a 1 with 12 zeros, of regulations.

Are you kidding me? One trillion?!

What about regulations that are no longer up to date with technology or simply out of date period?

What if it was your job to find the regulations that were out of date? What if your job was to update each and every outdated regulation?

I can’t even imagine what one trillion regulations looks like let alone trying to figure out which ones are out of date and how I would even go about understanding all the laws that apply to each regulation in order to make it up to date. Consider how fast new technologies are introduced? And how each of these technologies create new problems for the now outdated technologies.

With technology the solution is often as simple as an upgrade, sometimes a replacement. And if we want that new tech bad enough we get it. Simple. It’s different with our health. We often don’t find out until a lot of time has passed by that the product we’ve been using is really bad for us. It doesn’t help that it’s relatively easy to market products that are not tested or evaluated; think of all the labels that read “not tested by the FDA.”

There are just too many new products introduced as safe for people each year for the FDA to be on top of.

OK, stay with me now…

Let’s recap

#1 – The FDA was set up to protect us from food, biological, and medical related health hazards.

#2 – The FDA has regulations in place to help accomplish their job. One trillion regulations.

#3 – Their area of oversight extends beyond the United States to include US territories and possessions.

Let’s consider the number one trillion for a minute. 1 trillion seconds equals over 31,700 years. Turn those seconds into regulations, and imagine that 31,700 people were placed in charge of the 1 trillion regulations.

Sounds like a plan. However, the average person only lives about 80 years and, well, since they can’t start going over those regulations until they pass the bar exam let’s say they only have 50 years to do it.

How long do you think it would take to look over those regulations? An hour per regulation? A day? A month?

Continue reading…

Share your thoughts. :)

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  1. Very interesting article Chrisi. For a long time I have stopped taking notice of the ‘mainstream experts’ as I really struggle to believe what they say. The fortunate thing about the internet is that it makes it easier to do your own research, and this is exactly what I do. I look for evidence based stuff which provides links to studies which back up what they are saying, all the while keeping an eye out for who funded the study as this can often be influential. As with everything now a days you have to do your own due diligence!

  2. I have definitely been influenced by documentaries I’ve watched on Netflix and TV as far as the FDA goes. After reading this article I feel like they are not really given the resources or funding to properly manage their job. I can’t say that I feel more confident about them because I agree with you in that I need to do my own research. But I do appreciate they have a job far too big for any one organization to handle.