The Great Health Care Rip-Off of the 21st Century

When you buy cigarettes and junk food, you wind up paying twice: once for the goods, and once again for the health problems the companies create but don't help fix.

Food Politics
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I've been at meetings in London and Geneva on non-communicable (what we call chronic) diseases and how to prevent them.

On the way to Europe, I did some catching up on reading past issues of The Lancet and ran across this letter from Sally Casswell of the School of Public Health at Massey University in Auckland.

Professor Casswell was responding to an article arguing that a major priority in chronic disease prevention should be to strengthen the capacity of countries to deliver primary care services.

Yes, professor Casswell writes, primary care is important. But it is even more important to focus prevention efforts on the environmental factors that influence the behavior of individuals and cause them to need primary care services in the first place.

Do we really want to continue to live in a world where the oversupply and marketing of tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy processed foods, and soft drinks is tolerated simply to allow continuing profits for the shareholders of the transnational corporations producing and distributing them, while the taxpayer funds the health services and pharmaceutical response to the ensuing disease and injury?

This is a refreshing way to look at this problem, and one well worth pondering.

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This post originally appeared on Food Politics, an Atlantic partner site.



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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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