Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pollan (and Allport) on Diet and Health

Michael Pollan connects health care reform with agriculture and food policy reform in today's Times:

One of the leading products of the American food industry has become patients for the American health care industry.

But the economics of health insurance under a new system will change that:

As for the insurers, you would think preventing chronic diseases would be good business, but, at least under the current rules, it’s much better business simply to keep patients at risk for chronic disease out of your pool of customers, whether through lifetime caps on coverage or rules against pre-existing conditions or by figuring out ways to toss patients overboard when they become ill.

But these rules may well be about to change — and, when it comes to reforming the American diet and food system, that step alone could be a game changer. Even under the weaker versions of health care reform now on offer, health insurers would be required to take everyone at the same rates, provide a standard level of coverage and keep people on their rolls regardless of their health. Terms like “pre-existing conditions” and “underwriting” would vanish from the health insurance rulebook — and, when they do, the relationship between the health insurance industry and the food industry will undergo a sea change.

And speaking of diet and health, our friend and neighbor Susan Allport was on Leonard Lopate the other day talking about how changes in our diet have led us to consume a greater proportion of omega 6 fats compared to omega 3's, which may help explain many contemporary health problems. The interview was based on an article she wrote for Prevention. You can get links to both the radio show and the article on her website, here.


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