About 11 million deaths a year are linked to poor diet around the globe. A new study published in the Lancet shows that poor diet is the leading risk factor for deaths in the majority of the countries of the world.
And it’s hammering Americans. 1 in 3 children here now have at least one of the 4As: allergies, asthma, ADHD and autism. The rates of obesity and diabetes are escalating, and pediatric cancer is impacting the lives of far too many families.
This needs to be a key topic in presidential debates. Candidates will talk about how to pay for health care, but it’s time to talk about how to build a better food system that will keep us healthy in the first place. 800 million people around the globe don’t get enough to eat, and 1.9 billion people weigh too much. Malnutrition is impacting both ends of the spectrum, and it’s impacting our families, our companies, our health care system and our economy.
A report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies states: “Worldwide, malnutrition costs $3.5 trillion annually, with overweight- and obesity-related noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, adding $2 trillion.”
The U.S. is famous for over-spending on health care. We spend more on disease management than any other country on the planet. Per capita, the U.S. spent close to $10,000. That’s nearly double what other countries spent.
And as for the drug market, which we’ve covered extensively on these pages, due to Mylan’s price-gouging with the Epipen device and the #epigate issue, the U.S. spent $1,443 per capita on pharmaceuticals. The average pharmaceutical spending of all 11 countries came to $749 per capita. Almost have as much.
This is crippling our families, our companies, our productivity and our economy. So why aren’t we talking about this at every presidential debate?
What if instead of political action committees, we had food action committees (FAC)? What if every presidential candidate not only had to answer questions about our health care system but also about our food system?
FACs not PACs
What if we started asking different questions? My friend, Tim Ryan, is doing just that. I actually had no idea he was running for President until he reached out and asked if I would share this video. He was direct: I’m not asking for an endorsement, Robyn, but just help getting this message out.
If you watch the first minute, you will understand why I am sharing it.
In the video, Tim, a dad of three and Congressman in Ohio, takes on Big Food and Big Ag and asks the obvious questions, “Is it important that big agriculture makes a bunch of money or that big pharma makes a bunch of money? Or, is it most important that our citizens are healthy?”
Isn’t it time to use the power of the White House to bring everyone to the table?
The Wall Street Journal is running stories about farm bankruptcies. Why? Median farm income for U.S. farm households was negative $1,548 in 2018. Food security is national security, and negative farm income provides no security.
It is time that our Presidential candidates answer this basic question: What plan do you have in place to rescue the American farmer and build a better food system, one that meets the changing and dynamic needs of 21st century families?
It was Harry Truman who said, “In the long view, no nation is any healthier than its children or more prosperous than its farmers.”
In 2020, every candidate should be asked about the State of the Plate and what their roadmap is to fix food and restore the health of our country. I’m grateful to Tim Ryan for kicking off this critical conversation.