Health issues more dire than swine flu

Health issues more dire than swine flu

During this past week while my teenage daughter was quarantined in China for exposure to swine flu, I had lots of reasons to watch the news. Luckily, I found many news stories in which to indulge, such as the stormy topic of health care reform.

The irony that struck me was that while the Chinese urgently detained hundreds of travelers in an effort to halt a virus projected to sicken one third of the population or worse, statistics far greater and dire surround our nation's struggle to remain healthy. Heart disease, diabetes and obesity costs are responsible for more than half of all our country's health care costs, amounting to billions of dollars each year and thousands of disabilities and deaths.

The rate of obesity has tripled since 1960. Type II diabetes has increased 24 percent in a 10-year period, and it is estimated that one third of the average middle school student's diet is processed sugar. Isn't this just as scary as the spread of the swine flu? Yet policy makers continue to ignore the underlying cause of these diseases, such as the massive subsidization of corn and soy, derivatives of which make their way into practically all mainstream packaged food — food that is enticingly cheap because the price has been artificially driven down.

The result is overconsumption, along with a confused and malfunctioning endocrine system which disrupts metabolism, hormone regulation, the immune response and more.

Health care begins with both the common sense and policy to refrain from using our bodies like they're noxious landfills for conscienceless government officials and CEOs in the food industry.

Susan Shammel

Ashland