FOOD and HEALTH CARE: The Avoided Curse

“The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let food be your medicine.”
—Hippocrates

These days, truly eating nutritiously and consciously is not only good for you, it’s a political act. If we are what we eat, then we’re highly processed and a lot of vacuous calories. We are junk food. If it’s not real food, are we then not real people? Or mostly corn syrup?

I still think, like a red light district, we should have a fast-food district. Vacuous, environmentally-hateful food need not be prohibited, just put in its place, a sort of decriminalized zone where johns and food producers who despise nutritional food and don’t care what our children eat can hang out. Instead of this, the food owners—from Philip Morris to Kraft to Nestle to Pepsi—perversely rule massive chunks of our politics, our (un) consciousness and our (ill) health.

If they didn’t, wouldn’t bad food (fast food, processed food) be brought up—like it should be—as perhaps the biggest cause of spiraling health care costs? We need harm reduction on the Downtown Eastside to be sure, but how about with ourselves?

Our food habits are so bad, that even our staples have gone to hell: brown rice to white rice, whole wheat bread to white bread, tons of sugar, endless corn and corn syrup and most everything processed.

Our basic food choices, and even the foods doled out as charity (let alone at public schools—now that’s criminal) I think teach us a lot about the hatefulness and control over our lives that we ignorantly surrender to bad-food makers—the fast food/agribusiness ignorance/addiction to short term profit.

Anyway, this report from the Tyee reminds me of at least a portion of what is at the bottom (of the barrel) of our unpreventive medicine, our health care problems, and the simultaneously perverse combination of being obese and suffering from malnutrition—not to mention being artificially sweetened.

Poor nutritional health is one of the major contributors to sickness in low-income neighbourhoods like the Downtown Eastside, and socio-economic status is among the most important factors associated with health disparities in Canada. For Stephanie, an unhealthy diet will soon take its toll. The Hepatitis C, which limits her liver’s ability to absorb nutrients, will further rundown her immune system and reduce her body’s ability to respond to HIV-related infections. This means increased hospital visits and additional strain on the public purse.

The financial cost is borne by every Canadian who pays taxes. Health-care spending in Canada is roughly $120 billion a year [I have read—but can't verify, politics being politics—diabetes in the States costs $176 billion].

According to a 2004 study by the Health Disparities Task Group, the poorest 20 per cent of the general public (people like Stephanie) accounts for 31 per cent of health spending on people who aren’t institutionalized. That’s double the average spent on the richest 20 per cent.

Because a fifth of health-care spending can be attributed to income disparities alone, the study maintains that big savings could be had by raising the health status of low-income Canadians to middle income levels.

How about to all of us?

The full article is here.

Eat well and try to be happy,

Pete xox

Share

Leave a Reply