The Cost of Poor Health: $3,525+ Per Year

Imagine you had an extra $3,525 per year with which to take better care of yourself.  You could take an extra week or two off work, eat higher quality whole foods, or maybe sign up for that pilates class or gym membership you thought was too expensive.  Well, what if I told you that the average American does (or at least could) have this much to spend on better health.  It is all about priorities after all.  All we would have to do is save the money we would otherwise spend on treating the diseases of affluence (heart disease, diabetes, and cancer) by living healthier lives.  Buying and eating less refined food would be a great start!

Below I’ve compiled a list of the annual costs of treating the diseases of affluence in the United States, as well as the amounts we spend on various junk foods.  I added these costs together and divided them by the US population to arrive at a very rough estimate of how much the average American spends on treating preventable diseases and buying junk food each year.

$444 Billion – amount spent treating heart disease in 2010
$227 Billion – amount spent treating cancer in 2007
$174 Billion – medical costs associated with diabetes in 2007
$165 Billion – amount spent on fast food in 2010
$65 Billion –  amount spent on soda every year
$29 Billion – amount spent on candy every year
$7 Billion – amount spent on potato chips every year

$1,111,000,000,000.00 –  Total cost of diseases and poor health choices (a very rough estimate that doesn’t even include wasted food or cigarette and alcohol use)$1,111,000,000,000/315,209,000 (U.S. Population) = $3,525 per year for every man, woman, and child!
I hear people complain about how it’s expensive to eat healthy food or how it takes more time to prepare, but my question is “How valuable is your health?” In reality, we either pay for our health now, or we pay for it later.  In my opinion, after relationships, good health is the most valuable asset we have.  I think most people agree with this, but for some reason, perhaps because of the pressures of society to work and consume, we end up putting our time, effort, and money towards things that aren’t so important. Biblical wisdom puts it this way:

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” -Isaiah 55:2

Each is called to take care of his body and the people and environment that surround him.  When we don’t, there are many unfortunate consequences.  When we make poor health decisions, we aren’t the only ones to reap the consequences — our loved ones and the greater society are affected as well.  Preventative health, living healthy, just makes sense.  It may cost more upfront, but the long term benefits are incomparable.

Keep in mind, I’m not saying that all the diseases mentioned above are always preventable (or at least we don’t always know what would have prevented it), but by and large heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are symptoms of the foods and lifestyles associated with industrialized society.  We were created to EAT real food, PLAY outside, and REST often.  As simple as these things sound, our culture makes them difficult to do.  I for one, am going to take my $3,525 per year and put it towards living a healthy lifestyle, even if it means I have to forgo the chips, candy, and soda.


Heart Disease, Diabetes, Cancer, Soda, Candy, Fast Food, Potato Chips

Originally posted 2013-01-25 20:16:00.

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