What you choose to eat every day has a major influence on your cardiovascular health. But did you know that your dietary choices — combined with those of everyone else in this country — also have a big impact on our nation’s economic health? Thomas A. Gaziano, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Here’s the key thing to know about an unhealthy diet: what you’re not eating may be just as important as what you are eating. That’s what he and colleagues discovered when they analyzed the effect of 10 types of food including fruits, vegetables, nuts, sugary drinks, and processed meats to estimate the yearly cost of cardiometabolic diseases linked to consuming less-than-optimal diets. They chose foods and nutrients known to have either positive or negative effects on risk factors linked to heart disease, based on the best available evidence. We wanted to know what benefit people would get by eating the right amount of specific foods,” explains Dr. See “A heart-healthy diet: Which foods and how much? Foods highlighted in blue are the minimum amounts considered to be healthy; eat at least the suggested amounts. Foods highlighted in red are the maximum amounts considered to be healthy; eat no more than the suggested amounts.
An unhealthy diet is one of the leading risk factors for poor health, accounting for up to 45 percent of all deaths from cardiometabolic diseases CMD, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But the national economic burden of unhealthy diet habits remains unknown. A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in collaboration with investigators at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, analyzed the impact of 10 dietary factors — including consumption of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, processed meats and more — and estimated the annual CMD costs of suboptimal diet habits. I was surprised to see a reduction of as much as 20 percent of the costs associated with these cardiometabolic diseases. Using a model they developed and termed the CVD PREDICT model, the team analyzed individual risk of cardiometabolic disease and associated costs for the sample population based on respondents’ current dietary patterns. They then re-calculated costs for CMD if everyone’s diet was optimized to the healthiest amounts of the 10 foods and nutrients. One driver for those changes is identifying the exorbitant economic burden associated with chronic disease caused by our poor diets. This study provides additional evidence that those costs are unacceptable. The team notes that the current study may underestimate the cost of unhealthy diet habits as dietary factors may contribute to risk of diseases beyond heart disease, stroke and diabetes, such as cancer. While the study focuses on 10 dietary factors for which there were robust data, others may influence risk and cost as well.
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Yet surprisingly little is known about the economic costs that these risk factors cause, both for health care and society more widely. This study pulls together the evidence about the economic burden that can be linked to unhealthy diets and low physical activity and explores. The review finds that unhealthy diets and low physical activity predict higher health care expenditure, but estimates vary greatly. Existing studies underestimate the true economic burden because most only look at the costs to the health system. Indirect costs caused by lost productivity may be about twice as high as direct health care costs, together accounting for about 0. Publications Assessing the economic costs of unhealthy diets and low physical activity: an evidence review and proposed framework Assessing the economic costs of unhealthy diets and low physical activity: an evidence review and proposed framework This study pulls together the evidence about the economic burden that can be linked to unhealthy diets and low physical activity and explores How definitions vary and why this matters The complexity of estimating the economic burden and How we can arrive at a better way to estimate the costs of an unhealthy diet and low physical activity, using diabetes as an example The review finds that unhealthy diets and low physical activity predict higher health care expenditure, but estimates vary greatly. Table of Contents.