Poor diets linked to $50 billion in U.S. health care costs

Unhealthy diets account for almost 20% of U.S. health care costs from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, according to a new study.

Published December 17, 2019 in PLOS Medicine, the study was conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in collaboration with investigators at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Senior author Thomas Gaziano, of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at BWH, has a joint appointment as an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The researchers found that the annual economic burden of health care costs from cardiometabolic diseases adds up to about $300 per person or $50 billion nationally. The dietary factors that contributed the most to these costs included low consumption of nuts and seeds, low consumption of seafood containing omega-3 fats, and high consumption of processed meat.

“There is a lot to be gained in terms of reducing risk and cost associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes by making relatively simple changes to one’s diet,” said Gaziano in a BWH press release. “Our study indicates that the foods we purchase at the grocery store can have a big impact.”

Read the BWH press release: Healthy Diet Could Save $50B in Health Care Costs