How to Reform Healthcare

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The current proposals for reforming healthcare in America all seem like moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic. What needs to be reformed to make Americans healthier are their diets and other lifestyle habits more than their access to modern medical care. Instead of trying to figure out how to make MDs, hospital, medical equipment makers, health insurance companies, and drug companies richer at the public's expense perhaps they ought to be using the FDA to regulate the amount of salt in foods. Simply cutting salt intake by Americans by 3g per day could save as many lives as getting all American smokers to quit. They also ought to put warning labels on foods high in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, refined grains, sugars, fats and oils. They tax tobacco and alcohol and put warning labels on them. They also don't sell those dangerous substances to kids. Why not require warning labels on restaurant menu's and junk foods sold in supermarkets? Also put a "junk food tax" on foods high in salt, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and refined carbohydrate and/or oils? Certainly society ought to provide food to those too poor or disabled to buy it themselves but why give people free "junk food" if they are poor when you know Medicaid is going to be picking up their medical bills? We should also make overweight and obese people pay more for health insurance and increase their Part B and Part D costs if they are on Medicare just as drivers who get tickets and have several accidents pay more for insurance. If someone has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar they should have the option for health education so they can lower it. And if they want to control those disease risk factors with drugs rather than a healthier diet and exercise maybe they should pay for their own drugs to lower their BP, LDL-C, and/or blood glucose. Why are schools feeding kids mostly junk foods that promote diseases? What are the schools teaching their students about nutrition and health by offering them junk foods and soft drinks and less PE?

By James J. Kenney, PhD, RD, FACN

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