15 Jun 2011
At Dr. Atul Gawande’s commencement address to the Harvard Medical School he told a story of how his kid’s school was cutting the art program in order to afford the increasing costs of health insurance for its teachers. What a stark reality – we are spending more money to address a self-induced health problem and in the process mortgaging our children’s future.
How did we get here? Was it society’s belief that science could solve all of our problems or was it our national obsession with consuming more – more of everything? Some are saying that it is the fault of the food manufacturers, and others the soda manufacturers. What about the fast food chains? The vending industry? Many are asking if we should tax foods that are known to be unhealthy in order to diminish their appeal.
I think the solution is far simpler.
It is us. If as Americans we make the connection between our health and our wallets (or our taxes, or our kid’s art program) we will make the nutrition choices that do the most to improve our health. Short term we will feel better (and be happier), while in the long term, we’ll be spending less on health care and have more to invest in our future.
The challenge is making the connection apparent at the point we make the key health decisions. Hmmmm, will I have the jumbo popcorn and a coke (cost $10) and contribute $1.70 to fund our medical future, or would it be better to have an apple and a water (cost $2) and perhaps not have to fund the medical costs at all?
Today over 22% of our federal budget and over 17% of GDP is spent on health care – a number that has more than tripled since 1960. Interestingly, during that same period, we have cut in half the % of our GDP that we spend on food.
Yes please, I’ll take that doughnut (cost $1) and a Lipitor (cost $5 at Costco).
How do we shift our thinking to make it cool to eat well? The Toyota Prius was interesting when Hollywood stars started driving them but it looked really hip when gas prices topped $4 a gallon.
Will it take the same harsh economic pain to bring about change in our diets, or can we make nutritional change a patriotic mission to deliver us from the tyranny of health care spending. We are the problem, and we are also the solution. If we care about our family, and our country, than we need to start caring for ourselves. It is pretty simple.
Eat right, and exercise, and be cool!
RobCheck out my latest posts here