Thanksgiving: A time to eat…and check your family health history

by Kathryn Elliott

Unbeknownst to many, “Turkey Day” is also officially “Family Health History Day.”

The U.S. Surgeon General has designated Thanksgiving as a day to take stock of family health for the past eight years.

“Discussing health information with other members of your family can often uncover conditions and explanations for health problems which you never knew about, simply because no one ever asked,” said Dr. Regina Benjamin, the Surgeon General.

Not only does the surgeon general recommend that families shoot the breeze about chronic health conditions, however. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a widget to help people compile important documents and facts related to their’s and their relatives’ health history.

“My Family Health Portrait” is a free and secure online tool where you can pull together a personalized family health tree in about 20 minutes.

It’s available on the Surgeon General’s website at

Don’t just eat turkey this Thursday — learn about how the extra serving of pumpkin pie might just be adding to the heart disease passed down by your ancestors.