[ExI] How to get a healthy country

James Clement clementlawyer at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 17 04:41:16 UTC 2007

Thanks, J. Andrew for your reply:

> Most of, at least, the economics literature I am aware of seems to  
> indicate that prevention does not buy you anything worth the expense  
> beyond the very rudimentary.  Aggressive prevention has a very low  
> return on investment any way you calculate it and gives much better  
> return invested in advanced and available treatment.  Are you arguing  
> that this is incorrect?

I haven't seen such literature, so I can't comment on their premises or
assumptions.  Please feel free to send me an example of such.

> Ignoring the whole "healthy lifestyle and diet" thing which is rarely  
> controlled for,... 

> The US has perfectly adequate prevention, a crap lifestyle and diet,  
> and superior medical treatment.  The crap lifestyle and superior  
> medical treatment essentially cancel each other out and leave the US  
> as an average country statistically.  Some European countries have a  
> healthier lifestyle, but get taken down a couple notches because the  
> medical treatment is not as good or available as in the US.

How do you define "prevention"?  Here in the States, "healthy lifestyle and
diet" are one of the first things one is told is best for prevention, after
that, many other things including stress reduction, vitamins/supplements,
etc. are encouraged, depending on the individual's genetic and environmental
risks (see below). 

> If you want spectacular results, combine a healthy lifestyle with US  
> medical treatment performance.  There are regional demographics in  
> the US that already outperform any other equivalent demographic in  
> the world.  Even among the individual US states the average life  
> expectancy range is 8-9 years(!), so clearly there is a rather large  
> standard deviation at play here that gets lost when averaging the  
> continent.  Since we are all individuals rather than averages,  
> individual Americans should take advantage of the superior medical  
> treatment by also leading a healthy lifestyle.

I would agree that lifestyle, which is major aspect of prevention, plays a
crucial role in improving health.  

Over the years, I've read many articles which speculate the savings in
disease treatment which could be avoided if certain preventive measures were
taken...  Here are some examples:


WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- A study released today shows that daily
use of calcium would prevent 734,000 hip fractures and save $13.9 billion in
health care costs over the next five years. Daily use of folic acid by women
would prevent 600 cases of neural tube birth defects yearly, saving $1.3
billion in lifetime medical costs over five years. Omega-3 fatty acids,
glucosamine and saw palmetto supplements showed substantial promise for
improving health and quality of life and potentially reducing health care



Industry study boosts case for supplements.

COPYRIGHT 2005 The Salt Lake Tribune 

Byline: Robert Gehrke 

Nov. 3--WASHINGTON -- Use of two types of dietary supplements could save the
country $5.6 billion in health-care costs for seniors alone, according to a
study released Wednesday funded by an industry-backed group. 

The Dietary Supplement Education Alliance, an industry-funded advocacy group
said the use of omega-3 fatty acids by seniors could save $3.1 billion by
preventing coronary heart disease costs, while lutein and zeaxanthin could
save $2.5 million in curbing macular degeneration. 


A wonder pill that could slash the rate of deaths from heart attack or
stroke by over 80 per cent is being proposed by UK researchers.

The "Polypill" would contain a cocktail of six existing drugs and should be
given to everybody over the age of 55, the researchers argue. It could
potentially save 200,000 lives every year in the UK alone, they say.

"There's probably no other preventative measure which would have greater
impact on public health in the Western world," says Nicholas Wald, research
leader and an expert in preventative medicine at the Wolfson Institute of
Preventive Medicine, London. 

"In people who start taking it at 55, about a third would expect to
benefit," he says. "Each of these individuals would gain about 12 years
extra life - that is enormous." In some cases the increase in longevity
might be as much as 20 years, says the proposal.

James Clement

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