Healthy Diets Could Cut US Healthcare Costs by $50 Billion

Last modified: December 19, 2019

A recent study suggests that by following a cleaner diet, Americans could save more than $300 per year. In turn, this would cut US healthcare costs by $50 billion. 

The study was spearheaded by Dr. Thomas Gaziano of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Together with his colleagues, they assessed the cardiovascular impact of several food groups, including, but not limited to, unprocessed red meats, nuts and seeds, vegetables, sweetened beverages, and seafood omega-3 fats. They also used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data to determine their respondents. 

Gaziano and the rest of the researchers calculated the cost of having cardiometabolic (CMD) disease if each person would change their diets by including healthier foods and necessary nutrients. They discovered that suboptimal diets are responsible for $301 of CMD-related costs per person; this could be translated to $50 billion nationwide. 

According to Gaziano, there are multiple benefits that a person could get just by making simple diet changes. The good news is that these benefits are associated with lowering healthcare costs and risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. He added that their study proved that the food available at grocery stores could have a huge impact on one’s health. 

Moreover, the researchers identified that acute care could be responsible for 84% of CMD spending; the costs were highest for those eligible for Medicaid and Medicare ($536 per person). Increased costs were due to the low consumption of nuts, seeds, and seafood and the high consumption of processed meats. 

Gaziano further added that their study showed the need for new policies or interventions that promote healthy dietary choices. Considering that this can reduce the health and financial risks posed by CMD diseases, the group demanded a policy change in the food, healthcare, and agricultural industries. 

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