Saturday, October 17, 2009

Healthcare Reform and Obesity – The Connection

There’s still a huge debate raging over the pros and cons of President Obama’s proposed healthcare reforms. Most people are worried if healthcare as they know it will undergo a sea change (for the worse) because of the socialistic nature of this proposal. In order to ensure that every American is able to afford healthcare because it is a basic human necessity, Obama plans to fund this new venture by eliminating waste in the system, improving efficiency and cutting down the tax cuts for the superrich. But, will the healthcare reforms address preventive measures, the kind that has proven to be the best when it comes to cutting back on medical and healthcare costs? Will it tackle head on the problems of obesity, addiction and excess that plague our nation and make it one of the unhealthiest in the world (in terms of lifestyle)?

The Strategies to Overcome and Prevent Obesity Alliance, which includes the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, has urged US policymakers to address the growing pandemic of obesity as a vital part of the healthcare reforms. The statistics are not good – over two-thirds of Americans are overweight and obesity rates have doubled for adults and tripled for children in the last 30 years.

We are so addicted to high fat, high sodium and high sugar foods that we have lost sight of what is important in the long run – good health. And as a result, we are being punished with diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiac problems, strokes and obesity, all of which are inter-related with one leading to and bringing on the others. Because of this, our healthcare costs increase by as much as $150 billion every year, according to research published in an issue of the magazine Health Affairs. This figure amounts to nearly 10 percent of the entire healthcare budget.

Along with the other measures that have been taken to reduce the overall cost of healthcare and make it affordable and accessible to all Americans, perhaps the President should include campaigns against junk food, processed food and a sedentary lifestyle in his proposal. Incentives for those who are healthy and fit would probably lead to others following their example. The nation must also be warned against smoking, with frequent users of cigarettes being made to pay more for health insurance. After all, why should you use public money to fund your healthcare when you’re knowingly destroying your health?

But with fast food and tobacco lobbies too powerful, it is up to the individual to make a healthy and wise choice, one that will not only save their lives, but also their money.

This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of nurse practitioner schools . Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

Note from Ronnie: I'd like to present as many different views as I can about this debate on Health Care Reform. This particular guest post may not be specifically related to CF, but I thought it was very interesting and would like to get your thoughts on it. If you would like to chime in on this topic, please contact me and we may be able to use your commentary on this blog. Comments and questions are encouraged, I just ask that you keep them constructive and respectful. Thanks.