Eating our way into pricier health care
Because I know you're dying to hear my opinion about health-care reform, here you go: Any changes that don't account for personal responsibility is a huge mistake. The fact of the matter is, one of the reasons that health care is so expensive is because, as a country, we're not healthy people.
An article in the New York Times has some stats along these lines:
"No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter. Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet.
"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.” Not all of these diseases are linked to diet — there’s smoking, for instance — but many, if not most, of them are.
"We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care."
In the interest of full disclosure, I read that article while eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes.