Thursday, September 10, 2009

Missing the Health in Health Care Reform

Michael Pollan was preaching to the choir today in his New York Times op-ed piece on "Big Food Vs. Big Insurance." His words were music to my ears:
"...the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially our being fatter. ...
That's why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry."
As excited as I was to hear Obama's rallying cry on health care reform last night, I was disappointed to hear prevention offered as a critical element of reform only one, maybe two, times.  Prevention isn't a sexy or politically inspiring topic, I know. Yet, public health is all about prevention. Public health is about "creating the conditions in which people can be healthy."

The food industry has significantly changed the way Americans (and populations globally) eat. Few countries have been spared. Those that refuse to let huge US-based multinational food manufacturers in, or that limit their reach, have often met much resistance and criticism. Yet, as Barbara Kingsolver would say, these resistant countries are protecting their food culture. They are also consequently protecting their health.

In an effort to get the cheapest, most convenient food we have sacrified quality, nutrition, and health. We have kids in America who are both obese AND malnourished. How have we let that happen?

While I am all in support of health care reform moving forward, it will in no way be a panacea for America's poor health. There are enough players out there who want to profit from sickness, not just the insurance companies. Pollan has brought this to our attention, once again.

No comments: