How can we stop our spiraling health care costs? Research shows that a huge part of this growth is driven by “lifestyle” diseases – diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney failure and cancer, largely brought on by obesity – now at epidemic proportions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one-third of adults are obese. Children are at risk also. The American Heart Association reports that the risk of elevated blood pressure among children and adolescents is up 27 percent over the last 13 years. Many experts now say that this generation of children will not live as long as their parents because of childhood obesity.
Good nutrition is both prevention and treatment. As long as milk costs more than soda, and fresh fruits and vegetables are out of reach financially or unavailable in urban and rural food deserts, people will continue to turn to chips, fries, pizza and burgers, which are plentiful, filling and cheap. Expensive medicines alone, without a nutritious diet, will not control these diseases.
It is morally right and fiscally smart to support our national nutrition programs robustly. WIC, SNAP, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and our National School Lunch, School Breakfast and Summer Meals programs are a great investment in health. I am appealing to Representatives Rodney Davis, John Shimkus and Michael Bost to resist any foolhardy move to “save money” by cutting them. Any money saved will be spent many times over on treating sick people. Food is cheaper than medical intervention.
Jane Klopfenstein, Edwardsville