Monday, June 10, 2019

The costs of unhealthy eating

What is the cost of cancers associated with poor diet?
A new analysis reveals that over 5 years, cancers attributable to unhealthy eating among U.S. adults resulted in direct medical costs of $6.9 billion (2015 dollars). Nearly 70 percent of this cost is due to colorectal cancer attributable to poor diet. The calculations are based on the estimated number of cancers cases attributed to not eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy, and eating more processed meats, red meats and sugar-sweetened beverages. Given the substantial economic burden of diet-attributable cancers, nutritional policies may help reduce cancer cases and their associated costs.

Can we decrease cancer disparities?
Results from a new study suggest that policies targeting food price could help reduce cancer disparities among low-income participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Of the policies modeled, a 10 percent national tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meat together with a 30 percent SNAP-targeted food subsidy would produce the largest reduction in cancer disparities, with about 16 more cases averted per million SNAP users compared to higher-income individuals. The overall greatest decrease in cancer cases would result from a national 30 percent subsidy for fruits, vegetables and whole grains combined with a 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats, which would have eliminated an estimated 7,208 new cancer cases among US adults in 2015.

Which policies would reduce processed meat consumption?
A new simulation study found that using an excise tax or warning label on processed meats could bring substantial health and economic benefits. The researchers found that over a lifetime a 10 percent excise tax could prevent 77,000 colorectal and 12,500 stomach cancer cases and generate a savings of $1.1 billion in health-care costs while warning labels may prevent 85,400 colorectal and 15,000 stomach cancer cases with a savings of $1.3 billion from health-care costs. Groups who benefited most from the policies were younger, had a higher cancer risk or ate the most processed meat prior to policy implementation.

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