Health Reform and Preventive Care?

I have been following the health care debate for the last few weeks. As I type this, I am watching White House press secretary Robert Gibbs defend President Obama's position on the public plan. For all the riots breaking out at health care town halls around the country, arguing about everything from death panels to socialism, when do we begin to have a discussion on preventive care and wellness?

Before we can truthfully have a real discussion about health reform in this country, we need to look at what's causes most health problems. The truth of the matter here is that most of these problems are related to lifestyle choices, namely cigarette smoking and obesity.

A recent survey from Health Affairs shows that $147 billion is spent annually on obesity-related problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension and certain cancers.

From WebMD:

If nobody in the U.S. were obese, we'd spend 9% less on health care. But more than a third of us are obese -- and another third of us are overweight.

That's a scary statistic. Here's a scarier one: 17% of U.S. children and teens are so overweight they're in the top 5% of body size for their age on growth charts. A less nice way to put it: these kids already are obese.

The health-related costs of obesity are rising. That's because more and more people are becoming obese, Finkelstein and colleagues calculate.

We have to have more discussions about making healthier food options available to everyone, which includes reexamining the persistent problem of "food deserts" and overhauling how Big Food has destroyed the food system (I will write about high fructose corn syrup later).

Also, regular exercise is important. Think about it: at the end of the day, a gym membership can be cheaper than a hospital bill.

John Mackey, I ain't mad at you.

From Wall Street Journal:

Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

Check out this video I found on preventive care.



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