Changes ahead: The Herald to focus on healthy living

By Jayson Jacoby February 25, 2011 11:56 am

I’d like to believe that Thomas Jefferson, when he dipped his quill into an ink pot 235 years ago, was thinking about the health of the people living in the country that his words would soon help to create.

The phrase he wrote, of course, was “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That “health” is not among the inalienable rights Jefferson listed in the Declaration of Independence is, I suspect, an intentional omission.


Surely Jefferson recognized what his audience would understand implicitly: That without physical and mental health, neither life nor liberty nor, indeed, happiness is easy to acquire or to preserve.

That notion, among little else, has not changed much in the ensuing two and one-third centuries.

The pursuit of a healthy life, however, has never been so complicated as it is today.

Never have so many of us been so aware of what’s good for us, and what’s not.

Or what’s supposed to be, anyway — the definitions of “healthy” and “unhealthy” tend to veer as wildly as a weather vane in a thunderstorm.

“Fat,” for instance, used to be about as dirty a word as you could find in the world of nutrition.

But just lately “trans-fat” has played the heavy, while other types of fat have earned the endorsement of the medical community.

We at the Baker City Herald intend to try to bring some order to this messy subject of what it means to be healthy.

Starting with our Friday, March 4 edition, we’ll be devoting considerable time, and resources, to giving you an array of information on this topic.

Not coincidentally, we’re calling this effort “Healthy Living.”

That will be the theme of the inside section of the Herald — also known as the “B” section — on each Friday starting March 4.

We’re defining that term, “healthy living,” quite broadly.

We understand that for some people, healthy means the ability to run a 7-minute mile.

Others are ecstatic when they can walk around the block and feel better when they get home than when they left.

Diet is the other twin pillar, along with exercise, of a healthy lifestyle. And we will delve deeply into the sometimes bewildering labyrinth of nutrition.

These days, of course, health has also become intertwined with economics and politics.

The word “Obamacare” has insinuated itself into the the American lexicon.

And the addition of prescription drug benefits to Medicare — the well-known “Part D” — has spawned a new industry of experts able to decipher the complex options available to older Americans.

Medicare is of particular interest to many of our readers, and we will emphasize the federal program in our Healthy Living pages.

Slightly more than 22 percent of Baker County residents are 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, compared with just 13.5 percent in Oregon and 12.9 percent nationwide.

The Oregon Health Plan (OHP), which provides medical insurance to lower-income residents, including children, is a vital program in Baker County as well.

About 3,000 county residents — 18 percent of the county’s population — receive some benefit through the state-run program.

Gov. John Kitzhaber’s proposed state budget for the two-year cycle that starts July 1 calls for cutting payments, by as much as 19 percent, to doctors and hospitals that serve OHP patients.

The governor also wants to reduce benefits for those patients.

We’ll explore the potential effects should the Legislature agree with any, or all, of the the governor’s recommendations.

Ultimately, we want Healthy Living to entertain as well as inform.

We’ll profile local residents — your neighbors, in some cases — whose healthy habits can inspire you and other readers.

And as always, we’re eager to hear what you think about how we’re doing.

Please let us know if you’d like us to emphasize a healthy living topic that you believe we’ve neglected.

If you’re pleased with our mixture of stories, well, we’d like to know that, too.

You can reach me at 541-523-3673, or by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Jayson Jacoby is editor of the Baker City Herald.