We Americans are among the most unhealthy people in the world and a big part of that is due to our diet. Poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the United States, causing more than half a million deaths per year. We will never solve our constant struggle to contain healthcare costs until we address this underlying problem. Yeah, we can tinker around the problem by changing drug prices and lowering administration costs, and reducing payments to hospital and provider but that will not drive down costs enough as long as we continue to treat our bodies as junk piles.
Instead of debating all these peripheral issues and asking how we will pay for it we need to answer one basic question.
What is making us so sick?
The simple answer to all of this is what we eat three times a day and what we snack on between those times.
- 100 million of us have pre-diabetes or diabetes (annual cost $325 billion)
- 125 million have cardiovascular disease (annual cost $350 billion)
- three-fourths of us are overweight
- poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the US
More of us are sick than are healthy.
How do we get out of this?
- Taxes on sugary beverages and junk food.
- Subsidies on healthy food to ensure that everyone has access to it.
- Further control of harmful additives like sodium, sugar, trans-fat
- Put more emphasis on healthy eating in high schools
Simply stated government plays a critical role in giving us the knowledge to stay healthy and letting us know just what we are eating.
Almost everything in our American culture is geared to unhealthy living. Even my small town of 2,000 has six fast food restaurants where one hamburger or other item on the menu has half a days worth of calories, salt, and fat. Top it off with an extra large bag of fries and a jumbo drink we are headed toward all the above illnesses.
I hope one of the good side effects of this pandemic, yeah I said good, will be that we will learn that it is cheaper and much healthier to eat at home than it is to go to a restaurant for our meals. Right now most of us eat at least three meals a week and usually five or more away from home.
Another possible positive for this pandemic is that we start demanding that restaurants serve us appropriate portions of healthy ingredients. But, I am not going to hold my breath on that one.