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From Orlando: Improving Your Child’s Future Health

June 26, 2010

While attending the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association, I attended Saturday’s session, The Implications of US Health Care Reform on the Care and Prevention of Diabetes. One speaker, Steven H. Woolf, MD, Director of the Center on Human Needs and a Family Medicine Faculty Member at Virginia Commonwealth University, addressed “Implications of Reform on Diabetes Care Delivery – Patient Centered Medical Home and Impact on Professional Roles.”

Dr. Woolf said a lot of good things, but one stuck in my mind long after the session ended. The single most important thing we can do as a society to improve the future health of our children is to improve high school graduation rates.

When you examine the outcomes for every chronic disease, educational achievement associates with improvement. While each year of college improves the statistics a bit, the biggest jump occurs with graduation from high school.

Why should this be? Does that high school diploma mark better socioeconomic status? Access to care? Improved health literacy?

All of the above?

Clearly, education is the most important gift we can give our children, in so many ways. As a society, getting all children through high school may be the best way to improve our overall health and lower those costs.

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