In my last blog (“Should We Be Paying Individuals for Good Health Habits? You Bet!”)I advocated that healthcare insurance companies should reward their customers for practicing good health habits including: exercising, losing weight and quitting smoking by reducing insurance premiums thus putting money back into their customer’s pockets. In the long term this alone will lower the number of people who suffer from chronic disease and save millions in healthcare costs.
Many applaud this idea which is embedded in the healthcare reform legislation that is currently being discussed. Several health plans now pay a percentage of a person’s health club or weight loss program fee. However, in spite of exercise and a million different diet programs, when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, most people simply cannot win this battle. Who cannot say that they have lost 10 pounds only to gain back 15 pounds a year later? We live in a society where richer, fattier food in large portions is marketed to the American public as a way to experience the good life.
In a recent Boston Globe column: “Putting Obesity Out of business” (www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinionoped/articles) Ellen Goodman points out that overweight people are not where they are just because they do not have the will power to resist food but because we live in a country that makes it cheaper to buy fast food than fresh food; where portions served are bigger and where the food industry works very hard and spends a lot of money to make it attractive to make us eat more.
Accolades should be given to the Starbucks coffee shops in New York City where they are posting the outrageous number of calories in the drinks and pastries they sell, which for many are standard breakfast fare every day, (caramel macchiato grande whole milk 319 calories; white chocolate mocha venti, with skim milk 628 calories, classic blueberry muffin 422, mixed fruit scone, 335 etc.). Every Starbucks should adopt that policy.
If it became a law that every food company from MacDonald’s with its Big Mac – 540 calories, large fries – 539 calories, to the local ice cream parlor posted the calories of the foods that they sell; perhaps we would see a reduction in the pounds that people are carrying with them.
Hopefully, with more education, less marketing hype from the big food companies and posted calories people would begin to understand the real story behind what they are ingesting.
There are over 130 million Americans who suffer from chronic conditions, many caused by abusing their bodies with drinking and eating bad calories and introducing smoke and inappropriate drugs into their bodies. Millions more are on the brink of Type II diabetes, asthma, heart disease caused by over-indulging in bad eating and drinking. In discussions on healthcare reform, shaking up the food companies could go a long way toward a healthier nation which is one of the underlying causes of the problems the industry faces today.