Health and nutrition: news from Plos Medicine

Health and nutrition: news from Plos Medicine

The benefits of a healthy eating system

It is well known that poor nutrition is a risk factor for certain chronic degenerative diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. A healthy diet can positively affect the well-being of the body and, in some cases, reduce the impact of these diseases.

Starting from this assumption, Drs. Yujin Lee and Dariush Mozaffarian of Tufts University, on March 2019, carried out simulations to assess the benefits that a healthy diet can have on the health and economy of the country.

Cost-benefit analysis in improving health through diet: results of a simulation in the USA

The study published in Plos Medicine was conducted on the basis of information on adults insured with the Medicare and Medicaid programs (the two largest U.S. health insurance programs) in the NHANES database.

Based on these data, the researchers built a computer simulation to estimate the health and economic benefits of two food incentives programs over 5, 10 and 20 years of participants’ lifetimes:

  1. a 30% subsidy for fruits and vegetables;
  2. a 30% subsidy on healthy foods in general, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, seafood, and plant oils.

The evidence found with model 1, over a lifetime, estimates that the average consumption of fruits and vegetables would increase by about 0.4 servings per day. The health impact would be a decrease in cardiovascular disease events of about 1.93 million and, from an economic point of view, would lead to a saving of $39.7 billion in health care costs.

Model 2 shows that the general healthy foods incentive carried out over a lifetime would increase fruit and vegetables intake by the same amount as in Model 1. There would also be an increase in average consumption of whole grains of 0.2 servings per day, nuts and seeds of 0.1 servings, fish of 0.2 servings and vegetable oils of 1.5 teaspoons. This would prevent about 3.28 million cardiovascular disease events and 120.000 cases of diabetes and save $100.2 billion in health care costs.

The results of this study have been resumed by one of the authors, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian with the following thought: “These new findings support the concept of – “Food is Medicine”-: that innovative programs to encourage and reimburse healthy eating can and should be integrated into the health care system”.

Edited by the Lipinutragen Editorial Board
made up of F. Bonucci (nutritionist biologist), C. Ferreri (CNR Senior Researcher) and R. Rinaldi (Marketing Manager)

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