VP Of Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Wraps Up Morning Lectures

CHAUTAUQUA – Medical innovation and an increase in transparency between patients and medical providers are necessary for building a healthier America.

That was the main theme of Dr. John R. Lumpkin’s morning lecture at Chautauqua Institution on Friday morning, the final 10:45 a.m. lecture of the 2014 season.

Lumpkin, senior vice president for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, gave an upbeat, light-hearted and informative lecture to wrap up this week’s morning series theme, “Health Care: From Bench to Bedside.”

“If we work together, work in every community, we can achieve the vision as a nation building a culture of health, enabling all in our diverse societies to lead healthy lives now and for generations to come,” Lumpkin said.

With a slideshow to help guide the crowd, he provided startling health statistics.

In comparison to other countries, he said America’s medical technology is top-notch, while actual health care is a different story.

“How do we compare? We compare poorly,” he said, adding that the United States ranks 35th in life expectancy, directly behind Costa Rica.

While pneumonia, tuberculosis and dysentery were the three leading causes of death in 1900 and the average life expectancy was 46 years, the three leading causes of death since 1950 have been heart disease, cancer and stroke.

“We only looked at what’s caused people to die,” Lumpkin said. “Looking at the real causes of death means that we have to look fundamentally not at how to treat it, but how to prevent it. Our very culture gave rise to one of the biggest health threats our nation has ever seen, one that cannot respond to treatment because treatment is not the answer, and that is obesity.”

In 1990, no state in the U.S. was more than 15 percent obese, he said. By 2002, no state was less than 15 percent obese, and by 2010, no state was less than 20 percent obese.

America has the highest rates in the world for those with diabetes under the age of 20.

“The current generation of children are at risk to be the first generation that lives thicker and dies younger than their parents, unless we do something,” Lumpkin said. “That means changing the equation of calories in versus calories out. It means creating conditions where people can make healthy changes.”

Lumpkin concluded his lecture by reminding audience members to keep health in mind.

“This is the last day of the series for this summer, and as you leave this beautiful area and think about how easy it is to walk from one place to another, take it with you back to your own communities,” he said. “When every community is structured in such a way so that everyone takes health into consideration, we can then, as a nation, achieve a culture of health.”

Lumpkin has both medical and bachelor’s degrees from Northwestern University Medical School and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Illinois.