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Supplement Perspectives

Does the Government Have a Place in the Populations Health?

Article-Does the Government Have a Place in the Populations Health?

<p>Supplement Perspectives Contributor Mark Becker explores the role of the U.S. government in healthcare, and asks the question, &#8220;Is the government&#8217;s increased presence in the U.S. health landscape doing any good?"</p>

We are halfway through 2016 and it is turning out to be an exciting election year in the United States. From a new Supreme Court Justice nomination to the election of a new president, we are destined to see many changes in Congress and to our government over the next few years.

It seems the government has an increased presence when it comes to the health of the population. First, there were nutrition guidelines, then nutrition labels. Now, the government is telling schools what to serve students. Next, it is set to ban some ingredients from the market and require menu labeling.

These changes are coming amid a dismal health picture in the United States. The increasing incidence of lifestyle-based conditions, most notably cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and diabetes, has compelled the government to take notice. More than one-third of Americans are obese, which leads to a plethora of health maladies, including CVD and diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. And heart disease is an “equal opportunity" killer as people of all ages and backgrounds can suffer from this condition.

A few fast facts from CDC:

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States annually (1 in 4 deaths).
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. 
  • Every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 190,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States US$108.9 billion annually. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications and lost productivity.

Furthermore, blood glucose is an essential measure of health and has a direct impact on diabetes. Millions of Americans are struggling with managing their blood sugar levels. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, the prevalence of diabetes in the United States is staggering as follows:

  • Total number of people with diabetes in the United States: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 8.3 percent of the population have diabetes
  • Diagnosed: 18.8 million
  • Undiagnosed: 7 million
  • Prediabetes: 79 million
  • New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010 (ADA, 2011)

Ironically, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, 1 in 3 American adults takes at least one dietary supplement each day. Fifty percent take a multivitamin daily. Overall, in 2015, Americans spent more than $21 billion annually on vitamins and minerals. And heart health supplements top the list. They range from fish oil to flaxseed oil to artichoke to garlic extracts. It definitely seems Americans are willing to invest in their health, despite the lack of results.

Nonetheless, costs of healthcare are escalating and the government’s role is growing, leading to a debate about how involved it should be in preventing chronic health problems by guiding what people eat.

The government is increasingly realizing that a preventive approach to health will promote longevity and quality of life. And natural products are becoming a significant part of the protocol.

Many public health advocates believe the government has a significant role to play in improving nutrition, and recent initiatives show the government agrees. The White House made combating obesity a national priority. It formed a Task Force on Childhood Obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama is leading the "Let's Move" initiative.

Interestingly, the government’s role in U. S. healthcare is still a bitterly contested political issue. Despite its importance, this issue remains a largely unanswered question. It is a big political issue in this current election cycle. The GOP, including its presidential candidates, wants the government out of health care. But that would destroy ESI, Medicare and Medicaid. The Republicans have no replacement for them. Meanwhile, the Democratic presidential candidates, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, have not answered this question.

Even as we keep paying more as taxpayers for our health care, we’re getting less and less value from the huge federal investment in our health care and the growing tax burden on taxpayers. Americans have seen soaring healthcare costs, declining benefits and insurance coverage choices, and increasing healthcare bureaucracy and fraud. It all seems to be getting worse. What can we do about it?

The aforementioned metrics and dialogue paint a bleak picture. I don’t pretend to have any solutions. I guess my question is, “Is the government’s increased presence in the U.S. health landscape doing any good?"

Mark Becker is an Account Manager for Vivion, a raw materials distributor, based in Vernon, California. He has worked as a natural products sales and marketing executive for 20 years. Mark has written more than 300 articles and has hosted or been a guest on more than 500 radio shows. He obtained a bachelor's in journalism from Long Beach State University and did his Master’s work in communications at Cal State Fullerton. For more than 30 years he has participated in numerous endurance events, including more than 150 triathlons of Olympic distance or longer, 103 marathons and numerous other events including ultramarathons and rough water swims from Alcatraz to the mainland. He has relied on a comprehensive dietary supplement and homeopathic regimen to support his athletic, professional and personal endeavors. Follow Mark Becker on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, access or

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