This new series, REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2014 includes experts in technology, the arts, well-being and social good. It is an exciting group of creative thought leaders and enlightened personalities. Individually, they are inspiring new models or trends; are extraordinary examples of social responsibility; or are writing and publishing hard-fought insights.
Tim Anderson discusses his professional background, current focus, and insights about how the world is emerging.
Profile: Tim Anderson is the founder of In My Backyard Health and Wellness, a grass-roots urban community prevention model that engages individuals to adopt and sustain a healthier lifestyle of an entire culture of African-Americans: A population that has among the highest rate of chronic disease health disparities in the United States. In My Backyard Health and Wellness provides health education and physical activities that focus on chronic disease prevention and reducing the risk of chronic disease complications.
Tim recently innovated the African American Men’s Health Check-in and Conversations in collaboration with Dr. Charles Modlin a urologist, kidney transplant surgeon, founder and director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Minority Men’s Health Center and the monthly co-host. Together, they are providing African American men living in urban, suburban and rural communities across the United States free health and wellness conference calls with highly accomplished medical, health and wellness experts.
Mary Olson: Tim, how have your views changed as you look back on your past?
Tim Anderson: Beginning in 2001, my focus was on health screenings. I viewed health screenings as the number one objective in addressing health disparities. Health screenings for diabetes, hypertension and other metabolic disorders were the primary tool addressing health disparities at that time. The importance of health screenings remains and effective public health engagement, however, screening does not engage in “moving the needle” towards the elimination of health disparities.
Improving health outcomes in high risk communities and populations requires a critical alignment of the following:
- Health and nutrition education
- Health screenings
- Preventative infrastructure
- Collaboration between healthcare systems and communities
- Realignment of local and state government public health resources
- Changes in public policies
Prevention is not clinically-based, it is community-based. I think by and large the medical community understands the need to engage more in community health initiatives addressing disease prevention.
By 2004, I had created the diabetes lifestyle center in my community. Since that time, I have continued to focus on a holistic approach in addressing health disparities. By connecting the dots, I have build a model of prevention that is sustainable and replicable. Thereby eliminating or reducing health disparities and improving health outcomes.
Mary Olson: Tim, How do you see the way the world is emerging?
Tim Anderson: For me, I am concerned about technology’s effect upon human development. I do not think we have the answer. We are projecting that technology will enhance our human existence. However I also think if we are not careful and diligent in the use of technology, our human development may be disrupted by such technological advances.
Like the natural elements of our world that have shaped our DNA it appears we now have a powerful synthetic element that may also influence our DNA. We are on uncharted waters, never in our human history has our life been impacted by a revolution of advancement that affects everyone on the planet simultaneously..
Mary Olson: Tim, What do you think about as you look forward?
Tim Anderson: I contemplate the impact of chronic disease epidemic not as a crisis, but the warning bell for things to come. Chronic disease is the tip of the iceberg. Throughout human evolution, our DNA has adapted to our environment. It is this adaptive ability that has ensured the survival of mankind, but there are two sides to this adaptation. I do not know the scientific term if there is one, but I refer to it as a harmonic adaptation.
Where our DNA is programmed to receive environmental codes that allow are genes to adapt accordingly. I believe this harmonic adaptation has existed from the very beginning. Conversely, I believe that stress or crises can trigger long changes in DNA. Under this scenario, adverse emotional or environmental factors can trigger gene mutation that can result in a host of health crisis.
The perfect storm consists of poor nutrition, high sodium diet, unhealthy fats and sugar, obesity from poor nutrition, low physical activity, chemicals and additives in products that we consume and use, as well as, other factors that impact our health. I believe these adverse conditions are now laying the foundation towards gene mutation of diseases.
I believe if we fail to change the harmful conditions in our behavior and environment, future generations will be born with genetic mutations contributed by the current chronic disease epidemic of today. We will have babies born with diseases like type 2 diabetes that are a result of genetic mutation and untreatable by current treatment intervention. In many instances, genetic mutations resulting in diseases will be incurable. Today, women who carry a specific gene for breast cancer elect to have a mastectomy even though cancer is not present. What will the options be for future generations whose gene mutation resulted in either untreatable and/or incurable chronic diseases?
The harmful conditions in our environment are sending our DNA into crisis mode. What we are witnessing in the world wide epidemic of chronic diseases is not a crisis, but the warning of imminent change in genetic mutation. I believe we may still have time to switch our DNA to the harmonic adaptation by making significant changes in our life.