Friday, June 15, 2012

Change of Diet -

June 1, 2012

A consistently increasing effort to improve our food choices is about to unfold. Taxes on fatty food and food laced with sugar will be one of the results. Another result will be a reduction in our current health care costs.

I am a long-time opponent to government meddling. I was against even discussing any government taxes, programs or efforts to tell me what to eat. Then I read “The Jobs Wars”. The last chapters of this book by Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton, provides simple facts about the cost of our medical care. I have often said that the real issue about health care is not about ‘who pays’ but about reducing the cost. Mr. Cliffton says the same thing. Politicians and the American people are arguing about who pays instead of addressing the real issue: how do we reduce the cost?

Politicians will not take on big pharmaceutical companies and force fair pricing. However, the outrageous profits by these companies are only half of the problem. The other half lies in the choices we make about our health.

A huge portion of medical expenses result from obesity. Because almost half of medical expenses are paid by Medicaid and Medicare (taxes) the government may be able to convince us that people on the public dole should not be allowed to purchase foods loaded with fat and sugar. Recent studies have repudiated the old argument that poor people cannot afford to eat healthy. It turns out that healthy food is available and is as cheap as the unhealthy food that is often purchased. With the advent of ATM like cards that replace checks, programs can easily be implemented to limit their use to only healthy foods.

People will whine about ‘”Big Brother” as this is discussed, but I believe the government will prevail.

We are about to see a campaign similar to the anti-smoking campaign that changed the habits of America. Imagine telling a person in 1955 that people would come to think of smoking as dirty, un-cool and stupid. We are now moving toward thinking in terms of fat people being lazy, un-cool and stupid. Now, I am going to the gym and getting rid of my fat and then I am keeping it off.

America is about to see more and more magazine articles, news paper stories and eventually, more taxes in an effort to improve our health, whether we like it or not. Perhaps we will one day pay about $4000 per person for our health care, which is about the cost in England, Canada and Germany - where people are outliving us. We now pay twice that amount per person and do not live as long!