The Root of All (Or Most) Problems with North Carolina Workers’ Compensation?

March 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent blog post, we discussed how typical chronic injuries (which necessitate North Carolina Workers’ Compensation) can often stem from surprisingly simple causes.

This is counterintuitive. When a patient presents with many different symptoms, including fatigue, strange blood work, dysfunctional musculature, etc, physicians generally assume that “a lot” of things must have gone wrong for that patient. Not necessarily! In some cases, simple stresses or annoyances can have an accumulated effect. The results can be complicated, but the cause may be simple. (Incidentally, this is one of the precepts of an emerging, exciting branch of science called complexity theory).

Simplicity can yield great and surprising complexity. This concept can help us understand and identify broader problems with the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation system. If you ask any expert or specialist in the field, he or she could probably list off dozens if not hundreds of inefficiencies, inequalities, and general problems with the NC workers’ comp system. Fair enough. But, what if many, if not most, of these issues stemmed from one or two “common root causes.”?

A Candidate Root Cause?

The following theory is as counterintuitive as it is grandiose. But it just might be right.

Many people on workers’ comp suffer from chronic conditions, which make their struggles worse. These conditions include muscular weakness, immune problems, diabetes, obesity/overweight, heart disease, hypertension, etc. We typically think that all these different diseases or physical ailments must stem from different conditions. For instance, many people believe that hypertension results from diets high in sodium. The conventional wisdom will also have you believe that diets rich in saturated fat cause heart disease, that diets with “too many calories” cause obesity, that type II diabetics get diabetes because of “genetic predispositions.” And so forth.

In other words, we don’t see unifying strands. Every piece is seen as different. In order to explain the complex morass of problems that we see in the workers’ comp system, we must hypothesize complex causes. But emerging research powerfully suggests that many of the “chronic diseases” of western civilization (which no doubt cause or contribute to a huge swath of workers’ comps cases in North Carolina) stem from poor dietary choices.

Specifically, we’ve been eating way too many starches and sugars. As a result of this overconsumption of sugar (not salt, not fat, not calories), we’ve seen a spike in all sorts of diseases of western civilization, such as diabetes, immune problems, etc. The idea that certain starches and sugars are toxic is by no means a new idea. Journalists, iconoclastic physicians and activists have been preaching this message for well over a century and a half. Their ranks include: Banting, Pennington, Robert Atkins, Mike Eades, and journalist Gary Taubes.

If these “low carbohydrate” diet activists are correct about their theory, then we must be forced to concede something interesting. The USDA food pyramid guidelines (instituted in the late 1970s – early 80s) – which instructed population to eat less fat and far more carbohydrate – might have actually provoked not only the obesity epidemic but also epidemics of diabetes and metabolic syndrome and who knows what else!

It is an intriguing hypothesis – a kind of grand unified theory of nutrition and diet. But if the hypothesis is right, then maybe many of the seemingly intractable and complicated and unrelated problems that afflict our state (and our state’s workers) all stem from the single common cause: Bad dietary advice.

More Web Resources:

A Grand Unified Theory of Nutrition?

Burden of Obesity and Chronic Disease on Workers’ Compensation System


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