As Congress and President Donald Trump continue to battle it out in Washington over health care reform, talk show host and cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Mehmet Oz, says the fight should be directed at reducing Americans’ waistlines.
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“Losing weight in America is probably the most patriotic thing that you can do to help nation right now,” Dr. Oz told FOX Business. “We’re all fighting about health care in Washington and how much it is going to cost and who is going to pay for it. I can tell you with 40% of the people overweight in this country, you can’t balance the health care budget, it is just too expensive with all the complications as a result of obesity. It probably drives half the health care budget itself.”
According to new statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week, four in 10 adults were considered obese in 2015-2016, a 30% increase from 1999-2000, creating an all-time high for the disease. The epidemic has also taken a toll on young people as well: 18.5% of youths ages two to 19 were considered obese in 2015-2016 compared with 13.9% in 1999-2000.
Oz says one of the biggest problems contributing to the increase in obesity levels is the government having “misplaced priorities” when it comes to food.
“I think we have subsidized food that is not in our best interest—like sugar. A lot of food that is grown in this country could be subsidized so that we don’t subsidize like fruits and vegetables. Yet, other foods that are processed or easy to make junk food, we support financially. Why would we do that?” he said.
Another alternative to help curb the crisis could be taxing foods that are not healthy, similar to soda taxes that cities like Philadelphia and Berkeley, Calif. have implemented.
“You can argue whether or not that is the right thing to do as a nation but when you tax cigarettes, you buy less cigs. It is the most powerful things that we can do. And, most likely if you tax sugary beverages, people will drink less of them.”
Oz, who authored the new book, “Food Can Fix It,” said Americans need to start looking at supermarket shelves as pharmacies instead of looking for quick and easy solutions to fix their ailments.
“You can use food to address most of the health care problems that you’re facing, whether its malaise, being exhausted, problems with your hormones, obesity—even Alzheimer’s. Chronic illnesses that have medical approaches should first be addressed with the food in our pantry. That is how powerful food can make you feel better.”