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Unhealthy Diet Habits Huge Economic Burden

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Published on : Dec 20, 2019

The role of healthy diet in the economic development of a country has been undergone much analysis. Nevertheless, the huge costs that an economy has incurred due to unhealthy diet habits-suboptimal diets-in its population aren’t hidden. These diets contribute to cardiometabolic diseases (CMD), undoubtedly. Brigham and Women's Hospital in collaboration with Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, undertook a new initiative to assess the burden to the U.S. economy.

Particularly, the team of researchers took a closer look at the CMD costs. These are due to heart diseases, strokes, and type 2 diabetes that poor eating habits cause. They took into account 10 dietary factors. They found that suboptimal diet pattern will costs approximately $300 per person. Integrate it to the overall economy the number is $50 billion nationally. Surprisingly, the costs amount to a significant proportion of costs—around 18%--of the three CMDs.

Carefully Choosing Groceries can Make Great Difference

The investigators opined that there can be as much as 20% of the cost reduction if people carefully choose their groceries. They zeroes on in following 10 food groups. The researchers chose a sample population from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to assess their current dietary patterns. The age of the respondents were aged 35-85 years.

The estimated cost burden that suboptimal diets come translates to $50 billion nationally. Tellingly, a large percentage of this patients incur as form of acute care. 

Policy Makers and Industries Must Unite

The study flags the mounting burden that chronic diseases have been causing to the economies such as the U.S. The key factors contributing to suboptimal diets are due to people consuming more processed meats, low intake of nuts and seeds, and low intake of seafoods that are rich source of omega-3 fats. The findings may help policy makers to make a concerted efforts with industry stakeholders to motivate people to adopt healthier dietary behavior.