Cheap food is going to be popular as long as the social and environmental costs of that food are charged to the future. There’s lots of money to be made selling fast food and then treating the diseases that fast food causes. One of the leading products of the American food industry has become patients for the American health care industry.Greedy corporations are making you fat and costing the health care system money. They are so greedy that — how awful! — they are selling food cheap. Expensive food also makes you fat, of course, but it's less obvious who's making money selling expensive food and thus harder to blame the evil corporations.
The market for prescription drugs and medical devices to manage Type 2 diabetes, which the Centers for Disease Control estimates will afflict one in three Americans born after 2000, is one of the brighter spots in the American economy. As things stand, the health care industry finds it more profitable to treat chronic diseases than to prevent them. There’s more money in amputating the limbs of diabetics than in counseling them on diet and exercise.Oh, here are the money-mad limb-hackers Obama was warning us about. Now, what I want to know is what is so terrible about the fact that most of the health-care money is spent treating diseases? Why should healthy people be consuming a bigger portion of the money? It's a good thing that people are left alone to take care of themselves and that health care professionals are used to do the things we can't do for ourselves. Of course, it would be nice if people didn't get diseases, and maybe a lot more of us could have long, disease-free lives, with little consumption of health-care resources if only we did more prevention. But would it change anything to give people ample free sessions with professionals who tell us to do what we already know we ought to do? The doctors actually don't have a clue how to get us to stop overeating (or — as if it would help — push us into a vigorous exercise program).
Pollan gets an economic theory going. He says health insurance companies drop customers after they get diseases, but if new law prevents this and requires them to charge all customers the same rates, then, they will have a strong new interest in preserving health and, allied with government, will stimulate the creation of government programs, policies, and laws aimed at stopping us from eating so damned much.
When health insurers can no longer evade much of the cost of treating the collateral damage of the American diet, the movement to reform the food system — everything from farm policy to food marketing and school lunches — will acquire a powerful and wealthy ally, something it hasn’t really ever had before...."Bold new ad campaign"? Nicely, the NYT includes a link. Here's the ad:
In the same way much of the health insurance industry threw its weight behind the campaign against smoking, we can expect it to support, and perhaps even help pay for, public education efforts like New York City’s bold new ad campaign against drinking soda. At the moment, a federal campaign to discourage the consumption of sweetened soft drinks is a political nonstarter, but few things could do more to slow the rise of Type 2 diabetes among adolescents than to reduce their soda consumption, which represents 15 percent of their caloric intake.
It's a run-of-the-mill public service ad? What is bold about it? Picking on one product? Using tax money to pay for it? Oh, I see, it "graphically depicts globs of human fat gushing from a sideways drink bottle." I couldn't tell by looking at it. So shoving disgusting images in our face is bold. How admirably edgy of New York City. What's next? Pictures of ugly fat people slobbering over hamburgers? Something like this?
Throw all the taxpayer money you want into preventive care and raise the price on our too-cheap food. Blare nauseating ads at us. But we will still eat. We already care and we already don't want to be fat. We're not fat because corporations are greedy or because you can't get a free appointment with a nutritionist. We're fat because of the deep, innate appetite that saved our ancestors from famine and motivated them to eat whatever they could find to survive. We are here thanks to those profound desires, and life is all too easy these days. The unfortunate consequence of the beautiful amplitude of modern life is that we grow too big.
IN THE COMMENTS: Bissage said:
It’s funny that some people look at that ad and see “globs of human fat gushing from a sideways drink bottle.”
I see a dog’s head with a dagger in it, a penis, and the word “sex."
Makes me want to consume alcohol, but I don’t know why.