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Eat Better to Cut Healthcare Costs

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Poor eating habits are not only disease-producing, they are also costly, the latest research shows. “Suboptimal eating” incurs approximately $300 in healthcare costs annually per person, and $481 for older people on Medicare, adding up to $50 billion a year nationally—84 percent of which goes to acute care, say Harvard-associated Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers. This means that poor diets account for almost 20 percent of heart disease, stroke and diabetes costs in the U.S. Researchers studied the impact of 10 dietary factors, including fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, processed meats, sugary drinks and salt, and found that the top three risks were overconsuming processed meats and underconsuming nuts/seeds and omega-3-rich seafood. “There is a lot to be gained in terms of reducing risk and cost associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes by making relatively simple changes to one’s diet,” says study co-author Thomas Gaziano, M.D. “Our work illustrates the need for interventions or policies that incentivize healthier dietary behavior, as these changes have the potential to have a big impact and reduce the health and financial burden of cardiometabolic disease.”
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