The Microeconomic Impact Of Healthcare In Relation To Food

Submitted By badcaptain
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Microeconomic Impact of Healthcare in Relation to Food America has one serious nutrition problem. Improper nutrition is associated with numerous health issues affecting millions in the U.S. These health issues have huge individual and societal costs. By comparing the costs of eating healthy to help curb health issues and the healthcare costs associated with chronic illnesses from an improper diet, we can determine what the microeconomic impact is for a consumer. The first questions we need to address are, what is the cost of a healthy diet and is healthy food something that is available to everyone? Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health used meta analysis of 27 studies compared the costs of healthy diet (lots of vegetables, fruit, leans meats) to that of the costs of an unhealthy diet composed mainly of processed foods such as refined grains deli meats and the such. The cost of the healthy diet was about 50 cents more per meal for an average of $1.50 more per day. Multiply that by about one year and a healthy diet costs about $550 more per year per person. For a family of four, that translates into $2200 more per year for a healthy diet. The researchers also looked at the price per calorie and found that getting 200 calories from junk food was usually cheaper than getting 200 calories from a healthy source. The affordability of $550 more per year obviously depends on the income of an individual or family so to some it may sound like a lot, and to others not so much. About 12% of American adults and 24% of children live in poverty according to the U.S. Census Bureau, that means for a family in the lower income bracket which is about $25,000 a year or less for a family of four, adding $2200 to the family budget has substantial effects, and adds even tightens their budget constraints further. But for a middle class family making $80,000-$100,000 a year, $2200 more per may not be as impactful on the family budget. The research team at Harvard says that what this demonstrates is that access to healthy food is really a class issue. The USDA has identified income as a primary contributor to obesity and studies have also found that those individuals living poverty are far more likely to live in a food desert (places where access to produce and even grocery stores themselves are limited). This means that those people in poverty are often doing their grocery shopping at small local convenient stores that stock cheap, highly processed foods (Rao, M., Afshin, A., Singh, G., Mozaffarian, D.; 2013). For those who can afford and have access to healthy food options, it is well worth the investment. Junk food may seem cheaper in the short term, but it will result in higher healthcare costs later down the road. A healthy diet will go a long way to prevent chronic diseases and illness. This may be one reason the poor have more healthcare issues than the rich because they are having problems affording the cost of prevention.
The implications of an unhealthy diet have far reaching economic outcomes. Poor diets are associated with numerous diseases such heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, stroke, osteoporosis, many cancers (colon, prostate, mouth, throat, esophagus, lung, and stomach). Four of those diseases are in the top six leading causes of death in the U.S (Jamison DT, Breman JG, Measham AR, et al., editors; 2006).
If we take a closer look at just one of the many possible health related issues that occur from an improper diet we will be able to do some cost comparisons of a healthy diet and healthcare. According to the Diabetes Association, 26 million or 8.3% of Americans suffer from diabetes. 79 million Americans are pre-diabetic. If the current trends continue, by the year 2050, one in three Americans will be diabetic. The Diabetes Association estimated the total cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was $254 billion. An individual diagnosed with diabetes incurred an average of $13,700 in medical