I read with amusement the two opinion pieces in your Jan. 17 edition about the “illness care system” and the bankruptcy filing of the Hostess Co., bakers of Ho Hos and Twinkies.

Some 45 years ago, I worked at the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina. My boss, Margaret Dolan, sat on then-President Lyndon Johnson’s Task Force on Health Care.

As a nation, our rates of infant mortality, poverty and hunger were appalling. I remember Dolan advocating for the establishment of HMOs as the means to provide preventative health care; everyone would have a primary care provider who could shepherd them through life, providing guidance to promote wellness. Ah, Utopia!

We’ve had HMOs, the “war on poverty” and programs to alleviate hunger. But where are we? And why?

The shortages of World War II were replaced by plenty for many, but not all, of our citizens. Technological innovations made our lives easier. The transportation network gave us new opportunities. We rode everywhere.

Our diets became convenience foods, such as those Twinkies, burgers and fries. And we sat, eyes glued to our electronic gadgetry, gaining more and more weight until we were classified as obese, unhealthy and in need of expensive treatments.

So how about some personal responsibility? We need to stop looking to the “system” to solve our problems, even as we need to take care of those whose revelations have come too late. We should use our gadgets to access information about free and low-cost health screenings, often offered through local hospitals. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has opportunities to learn about healthful eating on a budget.

No computer? The local library usually has one. Stand up on your own two feet! And then use them to walk, or run, for your life.

Elizabeth P. Lint, RN, Norridgewock

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