Healthy diets are a valuable tool for reducing health-care costs

Creating a healthier society requires hard work on various fronts

There’s a saying, “you are what you eat.” We are not getting the same vitamins and nutrients from our food today that we once did. Soils have less nutrients and more contaminants than 50 years ago, which means we need to eat three or four times more fruit and vegetables to get the same nutrition.

Deaths from diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and dementia, and diagnoses of these are on the rise. The overall costs for treatment has risen at an alarming rate.

Obesity in North America is also running rampant. And there are more people than ever on gluten-free and sugar-free diets, many because they have been diagnosed with diseases such as celiac or Crohn’s disease, diabetes and others.

The cost of these diets is putting a huge strain on people who are often already financially strapped, leaving many of them no alternative but to fall back into the hands of our medical system. If the number of patients doubled over the next 20 years, for example, how much strain will this put on our medical system and how long can the costs continue to climb before the bubble bursts?

If the federal government were to try correcting the problem, groups involved with our health would have to be heavily scrutinized: the food, medical, pharmaceuticals and vitamin industries.

Government would have to find ways to save money on health care while promoting good health for everyone. One solution could be to partially subsidize everyone by allowing the costs of items that contribute to bettering their health be eligible for deductions on their income tax, up to a certain amount. At this point, it is cheaper for the average consumer to let the medical system look after them. People have to be educated on how they can keep themselves healthy.

Fixing our medical and health systems is an enormous task, but what choice do we have? Do we allow everyone to become sicker and watch the medical system become bankrupt? What kind of system will we leave our children and grandchildren? We can only hope the gap between costs and people’s health go the opposite way than they are going at present.

John Skinner