30 TED Talks Everybody in Public Health Should Watch
By Dan Rohr
Hopefully you’ve cleared your next 6+ hours, because you’re going to want to binge through these videos. Whether you agree with them or not, there are definitely some interesting takes on public health here!
TED Talks about Preventable Diseases
How an obese town lost a million pounds
Oklahoma City is a midsized town that had a big problem: It was among the most obese towns in America. Mayor Mick Cornett realized that, to make his city a great place to work and live, it had to become healthier too. In this charming talk, he walks us through the interlocking changes that helped OKC drop a collective million pounds (450,000 kilos).
Teach every child about food
Sharing powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, W. Va., TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.
Why dieting doesn't usually work
In the US, 80% of girls have been on a diet by the time they're 10 years old. In this honest, raw talk, neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt uses her personal story to frame an important lesson about how our brains manage our bodies, as she explores the science behind why dieting not only doesn't work, but is likely to do more harm than good. She suggests ideas for how to live a less diet-obsessed life, intuitively.
How healthy living nearly killed me
For a full year, A.J. Jacobs followed every piece of health advice he could — from applying sunscreen by the shot glass to wearing a bicycle helmet while shopping. Onstage at TEDMED, he shares the surprising things he learned.
Obesity + Hunger = 1 global food issue
Co-creator of the philanthropic FEED bags, Ellen Gustafson says hunger and obesity are two sides of the same coin. In her talk, she launches The 30 Project — a way to change how we farm and eat in the next 30 years, and solve the global food inequalities behind both epidemics.
Is the obesity crisis hiding a bigger problem?
As a young surgeon, Peter Attia felt contempt for a patient with diabetes. She was overweight, he thought, and thus responsible for the fact that she needed a foot amputation. But years later, Attia received an unpleasant medical surprise that led him to wonder: is our understanding of diabetes right? Could the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around? A look at how assumptions may be leading us to wage the wrong medical war.
The single biggest health threat women face
Surprising, but true: More women now die of heart disease than men, yet cardiovascular research has long focused on men. Pioneering doctor C. Noel Bairey Merz shares what we know and don't know about women's heart health — including the remarkably different symptoms women present during a heart attack (and why they're often missed).
How to make work-life balance work
Work-life balance, says Nigel Marsh, is too important to be left in the hands of your employer. Marsh lays out an ideal day balanced between family time, personal time and productivity — and offers some stirring encouragement to make it happen.
The killer American diet that's sweeping the planet
Stop wringing your hands over AIDS, cancer and the avian flu. Cardiovascular disease kills more people than everything else combined — and it’s mostly preventable. Dr. Dean Ornish explains how changing our eating habits will save lives.
Your health depends on where you live
Where you live: It impacts your health as much as diet and genes do, but it's not part of your medical records. At TEDMED, Bill Davenhall shows how overlooked government geo-data (from local heart-attack rates to toxic dumpsite info) can mesh with mobile GPS apps to keep doctors in the loop. Call it "geo-medicine."
How to live to be 100+
To find the path to long life and health, Dan Buettner and team study the world's "Blue Zones," communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. In his talk, he shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100.
The coming neurological epidemic
Biochemist Gregory Petsko makes a convincing argument that, in the next 50 years, we'll see an epidemic of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's, as the world population ages. His solution: more research into the brain and its functions.
Protecting the brain against concussion
In a lively talk, neuropsychologist Kim Gorgens makes the case for better protecting our brains against the risk of concussion — with a compelling pitch for putting helmets on kids.
TED Talks on Using Healthcare to Make a Better World
We're covered in germs. Let's design for that.
Our bodies and homes are covered in microbes — some good for us, some bad for us. As we learn more about the germs and microbes who share our living spaces, TED Fellow Jessica Green asks: Can we design buildings that encourage happy, healthy microbial environments?
My wish: Rebuilding Rwanda
Accepting the 2007 TED Prize, Bill Clinton asks for help in bringing health care to Rwanda — and the rest of the world.
World-class health care
Dr. Ernest Madu runs the Heart Institute of the Caribbean in Kingston, Jamaica, where he proves that — with careful design, smart technical choices, and a true desire to serve — it's possible to offer world-class healthcare in the developing world.
Every city needs healthy honey bees
Bees have been rapidly and mysteriously disappearing from rural areas, with grave implications for agriculture. But bees seem to flourish in urban environments — and cities need their help, too. Noah Wilson-Rich suggests that urban beekeeping might play a role in revitalizing both a city and a species.
How societies can grow old better
There's an irony behind the latest efforts to extend human life: It's no picnic to be an old person in a youth-oriented society. Older people can become isolated, lacking meaningful work and low on funds. In this intriguing talk, Jared Diamond looks at how many different societies treat their elders — some better, some worse — and suggests we all take advantage of experience.
TED Talks on Epidemics
Let's treat violence like a contagious disease
Physician Gary Slutkin spent a decade fighting tuberculosis, cholera and AIDS epidemics in Africa. When he returned to the United States, he thought he'd escape brutal epidemic deaths. But then he began to look more carefully at gun violence, noting that its spread followed the patterns of infectious diseases. A mind-flipping look at a problem that too many communities have accepted as a given. We've reversed the impact of so many diseases, says Slutkin, and we can do the same with violence.
Sex, drugs and HIV — let's get rational
Armed with bracing logic, wit and her "public-health nerd" glasses, Elizabeth Pisani reveals the myriad of inconsistencies in today's political systems that prevent our dollars from effectively fighting the spread of HIV. Her research with at-risk populations — from junkies in prison to sex workers on the street in Cambodia — demonstrates the sometimes counter-intuitive measures that could stall the spread of this devastating disease.
Take a look at extreme drug-resistant TB
Photojournalist James Nachtwey sees his TED Prize wish come true, as we share his powerful photographs of XDR-TB, a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis that's touching off a global medical crisis.
Lessons from the 1918 flu
In 2007, as the world worried about a possible avian flu epidemic, Laurie Garrett, author of "The Coming Plague," gave this powerful talk to a small TED University audience. Her insights from past pandemics are suddenly more relevant than ever.
My wish: Help me stop pandemics
Accepting the 2006 TED Prize, Dr. Larry Brilliant talks about how smallpox was eradicated from the planet, and calls for a new global system that can identify and contain pandemics before they spread.
How the "ghost map" helped end a killer disease
Author Steven Johnson takes us on a 10-minute tour of The Ghost Map, his book about a cholera outbreak in 1854 London and the impact it had on science, cities and modern society.
TED Talks on Improving Healthcare
What if our healthcare system kept us healthy?
Rebecca Onie asks audacious questions: What if waiting rooms were a place to improve daily health care? What if doctors could prescribe food, housing and heat in the winter? At TEDMED she describes Health Leads, an organization that does just that — and does it by building a volunteer base as elite and dedicated as a college sports team.
Crowdsource your health
You can use your smartphone to find a local ATM, but what if you need a defibrillator? Lucien Engelen shows us online innovations that are changing the way we save lives, including a crowdsourced map of local defibrillators.
Are we over-medicalized?
Reuters health editor Ivan Oransky warns that we’re suffering from an epidemic of preposterous preconditions — pre-diabetes, pre-cancer, and many more. In this engaging talk from TEDMED he shows how health care can find a solution... by taking an important lesson from baseball.
Health care should be a team sport
When Eric Dishman was in college, doctors told him he had 2 to 3 years to live. That was a long time ago. Now, Dishman puts his experience and his expertise as a medical tech specialist together to suggest a bold idea for reinventing health care — by putting the patient at the center of a treatment team.
Take health care off the mainframe
At TEDMED, Eric Dishman makes a bold argument: The US health care system is like computing circa 1959, tethered to big, unwieldy central systems: hospitals, doctors, nursing homes. As our aging population booms, it's imperative, he says, to create personal, networked, home-based health care for all.
Let's pool our medical data
When you're getting medical treatment, or taking part in medical testing, privacy is important; strict laws limit what researchers can see and know about you. But what if your medical data could be used — anonymously — by anyone seeking to test a hypothesis? John Wilbanks wonders if the desire to protect our privacy is slowing research, and if opening up medical data could lead to a wave of health care innovation.
Interested in exploring more about the challenges facing public health? Read through our blog about local health departments, and learn more about our goal to add $100 million dollars to local health budgets over the next three years!