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The Economics of Diabetes

The United States is facing an economic crisis unrivaled in its history—a catastrophe that has little to do with Wall Street and more with the poor health decisions that a growing number of Americans are making every year.

Nearly 20 percent of American children are obese. Taken as a whole, the nation’s growing girth will cost American taxpayers upwards of $147 million this year alone. That’s nine percent of the total amount of money Americans spend annually on medical care. 

Helping people make better lifestyle choices may be the key to lifting our country from this predicament, suggests Chad Meyerhoefer, and assistant professor of economics and an expert on health economics and policy.

His new studies on obesity and diabetes lend credence to that theory. Reducing the cost of low-carbohydrate foods for the 23 million Americans with diabetes, for example, could significantly reduce medical costs by $6.3 billion, his research shows.

“We found that subsidizing the cost of low-carbohydrate foods through vouchers or coupons could help improve the health of people with diabetes and reduce their expenditures on medical care,” says Meyerhoefer.

“This is a new way to think about using food prices as a mechanism to improve health.”

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