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Root Cause

February 22, 2015

“A root cause is an initiating cause of a causal chain which leads to an outcome or effect of interest. Commonly, root cause is used to describe the depth in the causal chain where an intervention could reasonably be implemented to change performance and prevent an undesirable outcome. …The term root cause has been used in professional journals as early as 1905. Paradies would define a root cause as follows: “The most basic cause that can reasonably be identified that management has control to fix and, when fixed, will prevent the problem’s recurrence.”

Root Cause is well known to Lean Practitioners. Lean is a management system that focuses on a dual pronged philosophy of “Respect for People” and “Continuous Improvement.” By delegating improvement activity to lean trained production workers, you delegate continuous improvement, and respect their talents to achieve improvement. They improve by a relentless search for the Root Cause.

Today, I read that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has changed a number of its warnings. Cholesterol and coffee consumption are tops on the list. They have recognized that dietary cholesterol is consumed in such small amounts that it has no effect on serum cholesterol in the blood and body. Coffee consumption has some significant benefits and the Committee actually says that some consumers should consider increasing coffee consumption. In Root Cause analytical terms, cholesterol consumption and coffee drinking have been eliminated as the Root Cause for bad results.

The Committee also took a tentative step towards recognizing something that I have been advocating for some time—that diet affects mental health. In an article published by the Huffington Post, this statement captured the hope contained in the new guidelines.

“For instance, the report mentions that the American Psychiatric Association classifies omega-3 fatty acid supplements (normally found in seafood) as ‘complementary therapy’ for major depressive disorder. And some studies show that a diet high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and seafood are linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

In the past 4 months, I submitted abstracts to 2 different conferences to discuss the impact of nutrition on violence, and had both rejected. I have also advocated for mega vitamin therapies for a variety of mental health issues, including Omega 3 for reducing violence and ADD/ADHD behaviors, B Vitamins for a variety of addiction, inflammation and cognition issues and other vitamins and minerals for reducing the inflammation caused by stress.

Information published takes years to filter through to the general populations, and you will still find many who continue to deny current information based on their past education. This new set of guidelines holds many implications for health in Indian Country, and I hope we pay attention to it. Poor nutrition is the Root Cause of many behaviors that we treat with therapies that might not be necessary. Let’s start a conversation around this topic: the nutritional root cause of many behavioral issues.

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