2013 just might turn out to be the year we fully embrace prevention and health promotion. Let’s hope so. Focusing on prevention, of chronic diseases in particular, is the right thing, the smart thing, and the only thing that makes sound economic sense. The harsh reality is that continuing our habitual focus on clinical treatment (more doctor visits, more tests, more drugs) will just enable us to keep getting sicker, and break the bank in the process.
The (literally) biggest problem facing Mississippi is, of course, obesity. Turning back the trend of rising obesity is the key to preventing a host of chronic health problems, and hence at least one major piece of the puzzle of controlling health care costs.
Obesity is no respecter of class, race, or gender. Anybody can be fat, sick, or both. But the greatest challenge lies in combating obesity among the poor, and especially poor children. That’s why the smart move for Mississippi is to take advantage of the opportunity to expand Medicaid offered by Obamacare, and to pour new resources into obesity prevention and health promotion. The short-term costs might be high, but those will be shouldered by the feds; the long-term benefits, in both health and economics, will be ours.