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July 26, 2010 / A10 Clinical Solutions, Inc.

Prevention, Not Cure, May be the Answer…

As a newly minted Deputy Co-Chair of the Healthcare Committee for Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) in Washington, D.C., it was with particular interest that I read the details of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.  This Act requires that we act now to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  These diseases account for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending.  Seventy-five percent!  It is almost unfathomable. 

And yet, these diseases are often so preventable.  So where is the disconnect?

In my mind, the first step is education.  There are so many people struggling in America to put food on the table in an economy where long-term unemployment is becoming an everyday occurrence.  People are having to make do with what little money is coming in.  And often the cheapest forms of “feeding” our families come by way of brightly-colored packaging and a laundry list of chemicals, additives, preservatives, trans-fats, dyes and unpronounceable fillers.  When one is struggling just to survive, the quest for educating oneself as to nutritional value versus shoestring survival falls mighty low on the totem pole. 

And this is where I see the disconnect:

The fact that such “foods” are still available at cheap prices right next to healthful foods like summer fruits, grass-fed meats, organic vegetables, hormone-free milks and more is a recipe for disaster if we are truly going to do something meaningful to help prevent chronic diseases in our country.  People with no jobs, no income and children to feed are not in a position to read labels.  They get what they can afford.  And the “affordable” “foods” are taking down the health of everyone. 

Heart disease, cancer and diabetes can all be linked to poor eating habits.  We have obesity running rampant in our country.  Overweight and chemical cocktails have been definitively linked with all of these chronic diseases, yet still 75 percent of the nation’s health spending supports the care of these diseases. 

If I am struggling, and I am able to buy a bag of flavored tortilla chips with monosodium glutamate, partially hydrogenated oils, dyes, preservatives and artificial flavors and it will fill me up versus spending the same amount on a bag of apples that will have limited staying power in my stomach, guess which item I will choose?  The chips, most likely.  These chemical-laden chips are a better bargain on the surface but will ultimately cost me my health and American dollars to try to make me well again after polluting my body such that I now have chronic diseases.

I don’t know if I have the quick answer on how I would fix this problem, but it just seems that somewhere we should be paying much more attention to this “food” problem and start removing the availability of this poison and working on finding a way to make basic healthy foods appealing and affordable in comparison to their unhealthful counterparts. 

What do you think?

A10'er Farah Khan promotes blood pressure readings at the Omega Psi Phi Conclave Health Fair, July 2010.

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