Nov. 11, 2010 /EIN Presswire/ – A combination of strategic taxation, advertising restrictions and food labeling would cost less that $1 a person and result in 7 million life years of good health over the next 20 years.
That is the conclusion of a paper by researchers from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and from the World Health Organization.
The study is published by the health journal Lancet, which has been preparing papers on a variety of topics in preparation for the UN’s Meeting of the General Assembly on chronic non-communicable diseases next September.
The current paper examines measures to combat obesity. It looked at 7 countries: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and England. In all of these countries obesity has become a big and growing problem.
Seven in 10 Mexican adults are overweight. China’s rate of diabetes is now equal to the U.S. Obesity rates have tripled among Brazilian men and doubled in Brazilian women over the past 30 years.
Unlike other studies that have targeted children, this study looks to remedies that will change behavior at all life stages.
“A multiple-intervention strategy would achieve substantially larger health gains than would individual interventions, often with an even more favorable cost-effectiveness profile,” the report concludes.
” Such a strategy would include a health promotion campaign through the mass media, taxes and subsidies to incentivize the consumption of healthier foods, regulation of food advertising to children, and a compulsory food labeling scheme. This strategy would pay for itself in about half the countries examined, and in other countries it would become cost-effective after a maximum of 15 years (in South Africa). “
Other interventions such as primary care physician counseling were also found to be effective. But targeting schoolchildren through school-based interventions was seen as unlikely to be effective until 50 years post-implementation.
The report continued:
“If a comprehensive prevention strategy combining health education and government regulation were implemented today, 1 million years of life in good health would be added to India’s health expectancy, and 4 million would be added to China’s health expectancy within 20 years. In this time frame, the cost of gaining each year of life in good health would be $270 in India and $380 in China. In England, 270,000 years of life in good health would be added to the population’s health expectancy, at a cost of $14,000 per year.
“An affordable prevention package covering unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, and treatment for high blood pressure and cholesterol, would cost from $1.50 per head per year (India) to $4.50 (Mexico). For the part specifically centered on unhealthy diet and physical activity, costs would range from $0.40 per head per year (India) to $1.20 (Russia), with the comparative cost in England of $3.80.
“This analysis clearly shows that the strategic approaches that deliver best value for money to address unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and obesity are improved awareness and information, appropriate fiscal measures, and enhanced regulatory mechanisms. “
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