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Saving Almost Six Trillion Dollars

Posted on 04/14/2009

Thank you all so much for your warmhearted and friendly response to my proposal to form an End the National Obesity Epidemic task force.  I find it encouraging that so many understand that unchecked obesity threatens the American way of life.  Of course, a few people objected to the idea on the basis that it would expand government power.  I can certainly understand that, as I am a proponent of “the less government the better.”  But in times of war and great crisis, we need to work together, and government is our best organizing agent.  Two people who disagreed with my idea each labeled me as a “communist.”  Preposterous!  I am the owner of a small business and a devout capitalist—the kind that would be outlawed or eliminated under a Marxist regime.  
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Who do I think should serve on the ENOE?  Well, here are a few who have been suggested:  Dr. Sandy Goldberg, a Chicago doctor; MeMe Roth, president of National Action Against Obesity; Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent;  Dr. Thomas Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner;  Kathy Hassey, president of the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization; and Bob Rewoldt, a gifted moderator with a deep concern for ending the obesity epidemic.  Bob is the husband of a Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating distributor, Randi Rewoldt, from Lake Geneva and Glendale.

MeMe Roth responded to last week’s blog by writing me that: “20% of our preschoolers, 30% of our school-aged kids, 50% of our young adults, nearly 70% of our adults—that’s the progression of overweight in America eating away at our health, hopes, and dreams. President Obama is implored to support a non-partisan, non-lobbyist, non-industry task force to end obesity.”

Kathy Hassey was recently quoted as saying: “We don’t want 12-year-olds having heart attacks, and that’s exactly where we’re headed as a society if we don’t deal with the health and wellness of children and, especially, obesity.”

Beginning in September, public schools in Hassey’s Massachusetts will send reports to parents alerting them if their child weighs too much or too little, part of a plan to stop obesity-related diseases once rare in children.  The Massachusetts approach is modeled after initiatives in Arkansas and New York City.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, chairman of New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, has fought to reduce or eliminate trans fats  and calories.  His chief targets are packaged foods and mass-produced restaurant meals, which contribute 80 percent of the sodium in the average American diet.  He is very concerned about the threat to public health posed by obesity, and is currently campaigning to lower the amount of sodium America eats.  Naturally, he would like the low-sodium approach of Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating.

Randi Rewoldt commented: “Thank you for writing about this topic.  I am saddened and very alarmed knowing that more and more small children are now obese.  My husband, Bob, would be wonderful on such a task force.  He is a fine moderator and equally concerned with this problem.  We have been printing out your blogs for display in our offices.
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I want to thank those of you who nominated me to be a member of the task force.  I accept.  The idea is gaining traction.  Now let’s see if we can persuade President Obama that we need to take action immediately to end the obesity epidemic.  Will you please help?  Here is the way you can contact the President.  

www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Please take the time to fill out the short form on that page.  Tell the President what you want.  You can quote from one or more of my blogs if you see fit.  President Obama has promised to revamp the American health system.  Well, fine!  Let’s start by taking action to prevent disease and thereby lower the costs of treating disease.

Also, it would be helpful if you contacted your local elected officials and asked them to publicly state their supportive opinions.  Thanks.
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Speaking of lowering the costs of health care by preventing disease, consider these numbers, please.  Various estimates place the cost of treating obesity-related diseases during the next twenty years as ranging from $4.7 trillion to $6.5 trillion.  These estimates are increasing as the scope of the obesity epidemic becomes more evident.

Let’s say that during the next twenty years, the United States has a total of 200 million obese people.  We have 70 million at the present moment.  The 200 million figure would drive the cost estimate way past the $6.5 trillion mark, but we’ll still use it as a benchmark.  Let’s say that each of those 200 million obese Americans have portion-controlled healthy eating meal replacement government financial support of $65 per week for an average of 50 weeks.  I know from my work that those people who faithfully follow such a meal regimen will no longer be obese.  If they fail to follow the program, their subsidy would end.

The total cost of such a program would be $650 billion, which is less than ten percent of the estimated health care costs of more than $6.5 trillion necessary to treat obesity related diseases of the aforementioned 200 million people.

My reason for establishing an anti-obesity task force is to explore the reality of facts and to make solid decisions based on knowledge.  The above is just an example, illustrating the ratio of preventive costs versus treatment costs.  The task force, of course, would be able to discover real world numbers and proceed accordingly.

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Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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