Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

Another Way to Reduce the Cost of Healthcare

May 30, 2017

Locally grown produce on sale at Uptown Market in downtown Columbus, GA, Saturday, May 27, 2017.

It’s no secret that the cost of healthcare in the United States is highest in the world, but  overall quality is low among developed nations. The United States ranks 37th in the world according to the World Health Organization.  As you probably know,  just about all of the developed countries in the world but the United States have universal healthcare.  Certainly the top ten do. While the debate on whether to go single-payer or continue for-profit is important, there is another way to drastically reduce healthcare costs that gets very little attention.  Poor diet reportedly is a major contributor to the cost of healthcare in the United States.

This was graphically pointed out by a Harris County farmer at a Wednesday night group discussion at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, Georgia.  He provided some very interesting information from the Sustainable Food Trust. (Click on that link and you can read the report on The True Cost of Food Conference that was held in San Francisco.)

The report tells us the following:

Diseases related to poor diets in the United States account for 86% of healthcare spending.

Obesity annually costs taxpayers $2 trillion in healthcare spending.

About $5 billion is spent on  reactions to food dye.

877 million pounds of pesticides are used each year by industrial agriculture.

Americans spend about 6 percent of their annual income on food now as opposed to 16 percent in 1960. European countries spend 9-15 percent.

The U.S. government annually spends $20 billion taxpayer money on agricultural subsidies.   That  keeps primary crop prices low, which keeps food prices low.

The Government spends $153 billion annually on assistance programs to low-income earners, $75 billion of that in food stamps.

The market favors producing food on an industrial, unsustainable scale. “Sustainability,” in this context, means providing for the current generation without inhibiting the ability of future generations to provide for themselves.

So, the real cost of food is much more than the money you pay for it at the supermarket. For instance, your taxes pay for the $20 billion agricultural subsidies.

Just think about the social costs and dollar costs of  things like rising healthcare costs, air pollution, water pollution, climate change,  illegal immigration, allergens, and others.

So that’s what some believe is the problem. How about solutions. Our Harris County farmer listed these:

— Reward environmentally responsible food production.

— Use money from government subsidies, crop insurance, and food stamps to make sustainable food more available and accessible to the public.

— Raise taxes on artificial-chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

— Create healthcare incentives and encouragement to eat healthy food.

— Create investments in local, sustainable businesses.

— Pay agriculture employees better wages and improve working conditions.

You have to admit, cliché warning, that’s certainly food for thought.  One thought I have is that there needs to be a national educational program to inform the public about the benefits of following a healthy diet.


One of the stands featuring locally grown produce at the Uptown Market on Broadway in downtown Columbus. The market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.




May 21, 2012

What’s it going to  take to get the message across that obesity is a growing, costly, dangerous health problem in the U.S. and in our area?

Dr. Joseph Zanga following speech on obesity to Rotary Club of Columbus

Well, for one thing, for media to get interested.  Dr. Joseph Zanga, Chief of Pediatrics at the Columbus Regional Healthcare System, says Columbus media just don’t seem to be interested in the problem. That’s a shame because the problem has reached the crisis stage.

Obesity causes endocrine and orthopedic problems. cardiovascular risks, and psychosocial problems.  Increased healthcare costs run in the  billions of dollars. Increased illness causes lost school and work time. It creates a less energetic workforce, and a less focused workforce, and increased turnover.

Dr. Zanga, one of the leaders of Live Healthy Columbus, says  the problem is going to get a lot worse if something isn’t done because obesity is growing at a fast rate among children, including little babies.

Check out these stats.

In the Columbus area there are 90,000 children. An estimated 30,000 of them are obese or overweight.

Georgia is in the top 20 states with the highest obesity rates in the U.S.

Nearly 40% of Georgia’s children are overweight are obese. Georgia

Georgia spends $2.4 billion annually on obesity.

In the United States:

10% of children under 2 years old are overweight.

21% of children 2 – 5 years are overweight or obese.

29.8% of children 11 – 15 years are overweight or obese.

17% (12.5) million) older teens are obese.  92% of obese adolescents will be obese adults.

During the ’90s we grew from 5% to 15% of children obese.

The rate has slowed, but not stopped.

In my view, what we need is a media campaign that balances the plethora of commercials that promote unhealthy food.  For instance, how many restaurant chains offer and promote healthy food menus? I can only think of one:  Subway. As far as I know, it’s the only one that even  brings up the subject. Maybe you know of some more. If so, click on the “comment” button and let me know.

Maybe we need warning labels like we have on cigarette packs on food packaging, something like “too much sugar/salt/fat  is dangerous to your health.”

Think You Don’t Have Time to Exercise? Is 10 Minutes too Long?

October 29, 2008

  I got some much needed comic relief at Rotary today. Dave Hubbard, “America’s Fitness Coach,” told members of the Roatry Club of Columbus, Georgia, that 75 percent of Americans are way over weight and that it is costing $200 billion a year in health care. That wasn’t the funny part.

  Among his zingers was a  Yogi Berra quote that I enjoyed: “Prediction is hard, especially if it’s the future.”  

  Okay, back the the serious part.  He says exercising ten minutes every day is better than longer times a few days a week. It’s how you do it that matters. Aerobics are fine, but alone they won’t do the job.  Muscle resistant exercises are needed. Converting fat to muscle is the answer. Dieting is not nearly as important as building muscles. If what you eat goes to muscle instead of fat, you are better off.  I wouldn’t stop those aerobics, though, because they are good for the heart, and they do burn calories.

  You can learn more by going to this website.

  Dave and his wife live in Marietta, Georgia.