Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Massive spending on health care systems in Europe and the US, is assuming alarming proportions and paucity of resources is excluding many low income populations from universal health care. Many are fortunate that health insurance cover give them some security against diseases which require high expenditure to treat. It is a tragedy that many of these diseases are "courted" by the consumers because of their wrong eating habits and unacceptable daily diets. By now it is well established that most of the chronic diseases are linked to diet and a vast majority of the consumers are lured to cheap but unhealthy foods by the food industry which offers high calorie, high fat and high sodium processed food products at prices much lower than that commanded by fresh and whole some foods.

Look at the American situation as a recent report has highlighted. "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".

With three fourths of health care spending going for treating preventable chronic diseases brought about by consumption of wrong foods, there is a case for the health insurance companies to become pro-active in discouraging such a life style and reign in the food industry. Linking insurance payouts to food consumption habits either through exclusions or higher premium, consumers can be persuaded to cultivate new eating styles that will be predominated by more and more fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, whole cereals, milk etc. With pharmaceutical industry more interested in treating diseases than preventing them and food industry more inclined to develop and market cheap but unhealthy foods, health insurers will only be able to arrest the current trend of growing number of people affected by obesity, diabetes, CVD, blood pressure, cancer and other life threatening disorders.

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