What do you think will be the biggest challenges and issues for healthcare policy and healthcare policymakers in the future? What we have begun to see is a war between the food industries, health care, and the government. Just coincidentally, the consumers are both the victims and beneficiaries of this war.
To clarify what I mean, we begin by knowing a little bit about our food.
The food industries make our food as cheaply as possible. It would take an entire paper to tell you all that they do so I will just add a few videos that summarize what all they do.
Our meat comes from this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idgNd0OHL58
Hormones in our beef: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R1ixshimfM&feature=relmfu
Our agriculture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcrGJoaXoxU
Everything we eat is corn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSbgTfg1Lro
The biggest secret ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMMtrmdp-NA&feature=related
So why don't they just stop? Well, the short answer is money. The long answer is a little more difficult. The food industries rely on our government to regulate and aid them in setting standards and providing subsidies/tax breaks in their businesses. But, in a weird catch-22, the government relies on the food industries to provide a big chunk of American revenue. This creates a symbiotic relationship all based on revenue. Consumers, aka the American population, are prone to accept the safety standards in which the government places on the food industries produce. The government sets its standards based on the expected revenue generation the industries will potentially make. The food industries set their standards based on what the government allows. Hence the reason why 99% of our food is junk.
Here is a video explaining more in depth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMMtrmdp-NA&feature=related
How does this impact our health care? That too is a complex issue. First, Americans are not getting the nutrients they need out of the mass quantity of food being consumed. Second, toxins within our food are being consumed and bio-absorbed within our body's organs and tissues. Third, Americans consume non-food foods within our food supply, i.e. soda and candy. Lastly, American water (which is used in food, to grow food, produce food, and make food) is contaminated with agricultural drain-offs, pharmaceutical wastes, and chemicals from hazardous waste (industrial, recreational, and house-hold).
The future for us looks grim: our soils are taxed, our meat is perverse, our agriculture is tainted, and our health is declining. The American health care system is trying to keep up with how the drastic changes of our food supply have impacted human health, however the rapid decline in health over the past two decades has proven challenging to keep up with. As old-school medical thinking persists, most health care professionals view nutrition and health as separate subjects. Thus, medications, instead of lifestyle and dietary changes, are sought for treatment of diseases and ailments. New medications, such as Qsymia, have been approved by the FDA in order to combat the obesity epidemic3.
Plus, the submergence of politics within the two industries (health and food) has made it difficult to set standards whereby both the consumers and industries win. This is most evident by the recent action by Congress when they denied bills to reduce junk food marketing to children, declared pizza as a vegetable, and defeated bills for taxing sugary beverages2.
In the larger picture, as these three inter-tangle in this food fight, Americans suffer the consequences. For anything to change, the U.S. Government must take initiative to change policies which aid the food industries in their pursuit of capitol gains, and the lawmakers which benefit from lax regulations. The FDA must be overhauled and new policies must be put in place to keep harmful and toxic ingredients out of our food supplies. The EPA needs more funding in order to help regulate and keep agricultural lands and water sources from being contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and hazardous wastes. If these things do not happen now, then human health will continue to suffer in the future.
1. Begley, S. (2012) Obesity fight must shift from personal blame-U.S. Panel. Reuters, New York, NY. Retrieved from http://health.yahoo.net/news/s/nm/obesity-fight-must-shift-from-personal-blame-u-s-panel
2. Nestle, M. (2012) Reuters: How the White House Wobbled on Childhood Obesity. Food Politics: Currently browsing posts about: Obama Retrieved from http://www.foodpolitics.com/tag/obama/
3. Obesity.org (2012) Obesity Care Continuum (OCC) Commends Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their Continued Proactive Support and Approval of New Obesity Treatments. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.obesity.org/images/pdf/Publications/Vivus%20Approval_71712%20FINAL.pdf