5 – 11 years is thought to be lost from the current average life span of 75 years. Executive director of The Trust for American Health (TFAH), Jeffrey Levi, claims that children’s lives will not only be shorter, but sicker too if current rates of obesity, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease continue;
Today’s kids could become the first in American history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.” Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of Trust for American Health
The antidote to the crisis is the Health Prevention Fund; a $14.5 billion US government investment enacted by the Affordable Care Act, 2010, the largest investment ever in prevention care by the US. Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, only 3% of health care funding was allocated to preventative health care. In stark contrast, 75 per cent of the $2.5 trillion spent on U.S. medical care was spent on treatment of chronic and preventable disease such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Sequestering of government budgets has seen cuts to the Health Prevention Fund of $51 million. Despite this the US government is confident that the Health Prevention Fund can contribute to a preventative health care system to replace the current “sick care” system.
The $14.5 billion dollars, to be attributed over a 10 year period, will lead to a number of investments to include:
- Vaccinations for Children (+$261.955 million)
- Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (+$128.699 million)
- Affordable Care Act Prevention and Public Health Fund (+$78.210 million)
- Domestic HIV/AIDS Prevention and Research (+$40.231 million)
- Health Statistics (+$23.150 million)
- Food Safety (+$16.735 million)
- Polio Eradication (+$15.079 million)
- National Healthcare Safety Network (+$12.628 million)
- Tobacco cessation (helpline and education) (+$6.040 million)
Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) — ambitious, community-centered grants enabling communities to respond to health inequalities from “within” have 5 year targets to achieve which include –
- reduce a community’s rate of obesity by 5%
- reduce death and disability from heart disease and stroke by 5%
- reduce death and disability due to tobacco use by 5%
The TFAH report documents a number of successful CTG programs that have been in operation including in Akron, Ohio where the CTG fund has helped to reduce the average care cost per month for Type 2 diabetes by more than 10%, saving an estimated $3,185 per person, per year. West Virginia has implemented policies for safety, school nutrition and physical activity and in Iowa, healthy lifestyle accountability is being cultivated through a partnership between health providers and community agencies.
The Tipping Point for US Health
Adult obesity has doubled since 1980 from 15% to 30%. By 2030, more than 60% of adults in 13 US states are predicted to be diagnosed with obesity if current trajectories continue costing $196 billion in lost productivity and $213 billion in direct medical costs.
Despite obesity costing the US $147 billion in direct healthcare costs each year, and two thirds of Americans currently either obese or overweight, the US has adopted a tentative strategy towards the activities of the food industry.
The US drafted “Voluntary Guidelines for the Marketing of Food to Children” — self regulatory guidelines that businesses are free to adopt or ignore. The UK, facing similar issues, set out a similarly tentative guidelines in a business “Pledge” – companies volunteer to “pledge” to meet salt and fat targets and remove trans fats.
Both schemes are voluntary ‘opt in’ recommendations. According to Small Business, only 11% of UK companies have signed up for the Pledge scheme.
Investment in the future health of the US, and the UK, needs to be big.
According to a report by The Telegraph, Kraft has recently set aside a $26million pound investment in the development of a Research and development for its UK base alone, more that the US government has budgeted for collecting US health statistics for the whole US population.
The opening of the R and D center in Bournville in Birmingham, UK, which includes innovation labs, a pilot plant facility, 3D printers and a ‘collaborative kitchen’ for experimentation, comes after Kraft revealed that profits rose 54% to £521m ($830m) for the final quarter of 2011.
“Joyville” perhaps for the financial futures of Kraft and their shareholders, but not for the US and the UK who face a tough battle for a healthy future.
The Truth About the Prevention and Public Health Fund
Fact Sheet – Health Prevention Fund
Dept of Health and Human services (budget appropriations):
Joyville at Cadbury (Kraft)