Barbie: Healthy Role Model

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They say 50 is the new 30.

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If so, Barbie may be one of the world’s best examples of living well, according to Cindy Haines, MD, a clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University.

The doll celebrates her 50th birthday next Monday.

“While Barbie probably has been blessed with good genes, she has obviously paid attention to her health and focused ahead to do what she can to prevent health problems,” Dr. Haines says. “You can tell that she’s an excellent patient and puts health at the top of her priority list.

“Having been a tennis player, aerobics instructor, equestrian, lifeguard, ballet dancer and gymnast, Barbie loves to exercise and has washboard abs and a tiny waist to prove it. She knows that regular, weight-bearing activity is one of the best things you can do to keep your bones strong and stave off osteoporosis.”

True, Barbie has been a McDonald’s cashier, candy salesperson and soda jerk, but she likely rejects most food sold on these jobs—and we‘d like to think she opts for natural and organic meals.

“She probably loves the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables that contain a high ratio of antioxidants, to combat aging,” Dr. Haines says. “Because she watches what she eats and exercises, her cholesterol levels likely are on target, and she probably doesn’t have to take medication.”

Barbie may enjoy an occasional cocktail now and then, but she has never smoked, Dr. Haines notes.

“You can tell because her skin is nice and firm,” she says, “and she has long, luxurious hair and bright, white teeth. And on the inside, I suspect her heart is strong, her arteries plaque-free and her lungs are clear.”

While Barbie never married or had children, she has surrounded herself with loved ones: her long-term relationship with Ken (they’re back together after a short breakup), six brothers and sisters, and countless friends.

As a presidential candidate, astronaut, paleontologist, teacher, surgeon, veterinarian, dentist, fashion model, flight attendant, ambassador for world peace, NASCAR driver and princess, Barbie has traveled around the world, exploring new and different cultures.

“Numerous studies show that staying socially connected and living up to your potential can help ward off dementia, so Barbie is doing what she can to stay mentally healthy,” Dr. Haines says. “She’ll no doubt continue to be engaged into her 8th, 9th and 10th decade.”

Dr. Haines urges Barbie to keep up the good work.

“It’s particularly important for Barbie to have an annual skin check because we know how much she loves to go to the beach,” she says. “And, of course, as she spends time tooling around in her convertible, she should remember to wear a floppy hat and sunglasses to protect her eyes.

“If I were Barbie’s doctor, I would encourage her to keep up with her regular preventive screening regime. She should continue to see her internist or family doctor every year and, along with a yearly mammogram, remember her clinical breast exam, pelvic exam and, if necessary, a pap smear. Now that she’s hit 50, she should get a colonoscopy to detect colon cancer. And she should mention to her doctor any symptoms and signs that are unusual for her to ensure early diagnosis should any health issue be emerging.

"If you take care of the insides, the outsides will follow.”

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