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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Throwing money at health isn't solution

Thursday, November 6, 2003

America today is built on a two-premise system. We believe that money and education will solve all problems, both social and personal. But if you spend the money and provide the education without any positive results, then it may be time to go to plan B. Problem is, of course, we have no plan B.

The federal government this week, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will begin funding a $1 million project to encourage improved eating habits among north St. Louis residents. A new produce market will begin selling fresh fruits and vegetables in the low-income neighborhood in the hopes of improving the eating habits of the residents. They hope that by offering the healthy foods they will ultimately improve the overall health of the neighborhood residents. The funding will even offer shuttle services to the new market for residents.

The market is open only four hours each Saturday and currently has an average of 50 customers each week. Now by any definition, that's not a lot of business. But the feds hope the $1 million funding will double the participation. Well folks, that still isn't a lot of business and hardly enough to justify spending that much taxpayer money, in my opinion.

The produce market organizers hope the wholesome food along with education materials and taste testing will help to improve the neighborhood's diets. Of course the longterm hope is the improved diet will improve health which will lower health costs and eventually save taxpayer money. That is at best a long stretch. At worst, it's just another waste of taxpayer dollars.

Unless you've spent ample time in a cave over the past two decades or so, surely you're aware of the importance of improved eating habits. But that education has little impact over the eating habits of many people.

You change human response either by mandate or by personal responsibility. Throwing more money at the problem rarely works. Additional education seems useless given the avalanche of information already available.

What is needed here and in virtually all other cases is an injection of common sense and logic. If eating three Big Macs a day clogs your arteries, then don't eat three damned Big Macs a day. Surely by now you don't need to be told this information and surely by now we don't need to spend more money telling you what you already know.

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