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Government policies, tax implementation on unhealthy food can reduce medical cost

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SOURCE: WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION

With several millions of people suffering from financial catastrophe due to out-of-pocket expenditure on health, government policies that promote healthy eating can help reduce medical costs and lower cancer risk, according to study.

The researchers, who presented their study at the Nutrition 2019 convention in Baltimore, that focused on ways to motivate people to make some of the lifestyle changes, especially in relation to the foods they consume, found that government policies that mandate taxes and warning label on unhealthy food could help in making impact on the overall well being of the people.

According to the researchers, government policies that mandate taxes on sugar and warning labels on unhealthy foods, while subsidising healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, can have a massive impact on the choices people make.

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This, they noted, dramatically reduces cancer-related healthcare costs and significantly lowers the number of people diagnosed with this disease.

In its reaction on the Nutrition 2019 research, NewsWise reported that a new modeling study estimates that, based on changes in consumer behavior, the soon-to-be-implemented added-sugar labeling on all United States packaged foods could prevent 35,500 new obesity-related cancer cases and 16,700 cancer deaths over a lifetime in the U.S.

Also, experts estimate that the new policy could save as much as $0.5 billion in costs related to lost productivity and patient time.

However, the researchers found that taxing sugar-sweetened beverages would similarly yield significant result, as the study estimates that a national tax of one cent per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverage could prevent around 17,000 new obesity-associated cancers cases and 10,000 cancer deaths.

The modeling study estimates that this tax would save $2.4 billion in lifetime medical costs for 13 types of cancer.

Meanwhile, processed meats are also known to cause cancer, as a meta-analysis of 15 studies, involving over 1.2 million women, revealed that those who ate the most processed meat increased their breast cancer risk by at least nine percent, with multiple other studies reaching the same conclusion.

NewsWise further reported that a new simulation study found that using an excise tax or warning label on processed meats could bring substantial health and economic benefits.

The researchers found that over a lifetime, a 10-percent excise tax could prevent 77,000 colorectal and 12,500 stomach cancer cases and also generate a savings of $1.1 billion in health-care costs, while warning labels may prevent 85,400 colorectal and 15,000 stomach cancer cases with a savings of $1.3 billion from health-care costs.

The researchers, however, concluded that the greatest possible reduction in cancer diagnoses would result from a 30 percent national subsidy on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, in combination with levying a 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats.

Meanwhile, researchers have stated that simple lifestyle changes make all the difference.

They noted that while regular screenings and health checks will detect cancer at its earliest stages, it is possible to prevent it entirely through a few simple lifestyle changes that will also prevent a host of other diseases

As reported by the Mayo Clinic, the following changes can make all the difference:
*Don’t smoke
*Eat a healthy diet, rich in a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.
*Focusing on the foods featured in the Mediterranean diet
*Limit consumption of processed meats
*Drink alcohol moderately
*Maintain a healthy weight
*Exercise regularly


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