A Dollar a Day May Keep the Doctor Away: Putting Spending on Food and Healthcare on a Scale
Katerina Maximova PhD, MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital; Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto
Shelby Marozoff MSc, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Arto Ohinmaa PhD, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Paul J Veugelers PhD, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton
ABSTRACT: In Canada, the economic burden from chronic diseases on healthcare systems is escalating and has the potential to significantly disrupt healthcare delivery in the years ahead. Unhealthy diet is a key preventable risk factor for chronic, non-communicable diseases, and, of all modifiable risk factors, has the largest impact on the global burden of chronic disease. Adherence to dietary recommendations is poor among Canadians, and the costs of healthful foods are often cited as an impediment to healthful dietary choices. But what does it cost us in terms of increased healthcare burden if we do not eat healthy? Canadians currently spend $9.34 per person per day on food, of which one dollar (10.7%) should be set aside for future use by the government for the treatment and management of chronic diseases because Canadians do not follow established dietary recommendations for healthy eating. In this commentary, we contend that relatively modest investments in dietary interventions to improve the affordability of healthful foods, to reduce the affordability of harmful foods, and to limit access and discourage consumption of inessential foods may have a significant impact on the chronic disease burden and help dramatically reduce the healthcare costs in Canada.
SUBMITTED: October 7, 2021 | PUBLISHED: February 23, 2022
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: This work was funded through the Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunities (CRIO) Team program from Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions awarded to PJV and AO (grant number: 201300671). SM received a stipend through this CRIO program.
DISCLOSURE: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
CONTRIBUTIONS: KM interpreted the data, drafted and revised the text, SM extracted relevant data, created the figure and assisted with drafting the text, AO conceived the methodology and guided data extraction and interpretation, PV conceived the idea, interpreted the data, and drafted and revised the text. All of the authors approved the final version to be published.
DISCLAIMER: Research conclusions and policy recommendations are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as a reflection of the opinions or policy positions of their employers and affiliated organizations.
CITATION: Maximova, Katerina et al (2022). A Dollar a Day May Keep the Doctor Away: Putting Spending on Food and Healthcare on a Scale. Canadian Health Policy, FEB 2022. ISSN 2562-9492 https://doi.org/10.54194/TUFN5875 www.canadianhealthpolicy.com.