Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

New York columnist Jane Brody speaks about health

<haps sent to reinforce your New Year’s resolutions for better health, on Friday, January 4, 2008, convocation speaker Jane E. Brody addressed a full house of Carleton students and community members. Her talk, entitled “Taking Charge of Your Health,” incorporated lessons learned over the course of her career as a health journalist. Brody is a well-established commentator on health issues for The New York Times, where her column has appeared since 1965. After studying biochemistry at Cornell University, she earned a master’s degree in science journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s School of Journalism. A two-year position at The Minneapolis Tribune launched her onto the pages of The New York Times. Her now widely syndicated column, found in Tuesday’s Science Times, combines information and remarks on the latest trends, opinions and subjects of interest in health. Her topics range from advice for better sleep, fresh ideas for exercise, accurate information on nutrition, and as of lately, a truthful and honest voice on many aspects of aging.

Her column, as well as the many references and guidebooks to her name, is known for its realistic and positive outlook and accompanying recommendations. Her articles make the opinions of experts and the conclusions of clinical studies accessible and engaging for readers with varying levels of health knowledge. Providing the public with awareness, knowledge, and perspective on health issues has always been her goal. Her efforts continue today after many years of calling for the same simple lifestyle changes that could potentially relieve Americans of many chronic but preventable health problems.

“I’m here to tell you that your body is paying a price,” said Brody, reprimanding the careless lifestyles of college students who have little respect for their health. “It might not surface until later, but the day will come when your seemingly unstoppable ability to bounce back from poor sleep, eating, and exercise habits will fail you.”

Brody then outlined the many simple lifestyle changes that can be made and consequent rewards. She highlighted appeals of good health to entice college students specifically, such as increased efficiency and energy, better sleep, and clearer thinking. Brody traced her own healthy choices in college through her life and to the present, such as taking a physical education course every semester of her college career, sports and activities that she still participates in.

Brody also provided other insights into her broad perspective on American attitudes toward health issues over the last forty years. Brody particularly has seen attitudes change drastically with respect to smoking. While working for The Minneapolis Tribune in the early 1960s, Brody reported on the first Surgeon General’s warning, which informed the public of the risks of smoking cigarettes. Brody interviewed many smokers on their reaction to the newly mandated cigarette labels, and received one unforgettable response: “By the time I get lung cancer, the cure will be known.” In retrospect, this thought is terribly sobering. Additionally, it testifies strongly to the perspective Brody has gained from her years of observing public health. Keeping this experience in mind makes Brody’s scolding of poor lifestyle choices seem more genuinely concerned and shows her untiring motivation. As she traces her own lifestyle choices through her life and reflects on their rewards, it is easy to see that Brody decided, unlike the smoker she interviewed, to take her health into her own hands, simply because she couldn’t trust anyone else with it.

Brody’s perspective on health progress also lends an appreciation to emotional, as well as physical, wellbeing. While attending Cornell, Brody sought the advice of the college clinic in order to help her find an engaging and rewarding extracurricular activity. She was directed toward the school newspaper and in a year’s time was its editor. Soon Brody was considering ways to make a vocation out of her newfound interest in journalism and sought to incorporate her interests in science as well. “I have my college health clinic to thank for the inspiration that set the course of my life,” Brody reflects. Brody therefore celebrates the rise of emotional health awareness and resources, especially on college campuses. She hopes its increasing prominence will help to foster the balanced healthy lifestyle she has found to be so enjoyable and rewarding.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *