New research claims that if Americans switched to a healthier diet, health care costs for diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many others would go way down. It is worth noting that just days following this study, one of the major studies backing up Mediterranean diet has been retracted and re-submitted with a less robust conclusion on its health benefits.
During American Society for Nutrition’s 2018 Nutrition meeting, Dr. Carolyn Scrafford revealed the data from the first-ever study to estimate the cost-effectiveness of following a healthier diet when cross-referenced with some of the most common chronic diseases in the US. They used the Mediterranean-style diet (MED) and the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) to determine what counts as a healthy diet.
“We found that increasing adherence to healthy dietary patterns by even 20 percent at a population level has the potential to save more than $20 billion in both direct and indirect costs associated with 10 major health outcomes. That’s a significant saving from what we believe is a realistic shift in diet quality,” Scrafford explained.
The Estimated Savings
The team decided to create cost-saving estimates for both a conservative shift to a healthier diet (at a 20 percent MED and HEI score), and an ambitious shift (at an 80 percent MED and HEI score).
The conservative score showed that the US would save between 30 and 47 billion dollars per annum, whereas the ambitious score shows between a 52 and 82 billion dollar save per annum. The research also suggests that about 50 percent of these costs would be reduced cases of cardiovascular diseases, and the rest from reduced cases of Type 3 diabetes and cancer.
It’s important to mention that one of the most important studies backing up the Mediterranean diet, which has been cited over 3.000 times since its release in 2013, has been slightly corrected since the release of this study.