Dr. Pauline Rosenau, a professor of management, policy, and community health, said the investments were not ethical.
Rosenau point out that, "They are placing themselves in a situation of substantial conflict of interest ... As long as insurers are largely private, for-profit entities, they are unlikely to identify with a public health orientation."
The stock in the five leading fast food companies represents slightly above 2 percent of the total market capitalization of the insurance companies in question.
What most people fail to understand is that most large corporations focus on one item and one item only, the bottom line profit. They are not philanthropic entities formed to make the world a better place. Their primary focus is on earnings and this association further validates that point.
I agree with Dr. Rosenau, who stated that these types of investments are an unethical choice for life- and health insurance companies. They are clearly profiting from disease, twice, by investing in major fast food companies, even though this profit is largely invisible and cannot easily be calculated in terms of dollars and cents made.
One of the authors of this study also conducted similar research into health insurance companies’ investments in tobacco companies, in 2009. Lo and behold, Big Tobacco is also bolstered by health- and life insurance companies.
In that case, the disconnect between the insurance companies’ missions and the business they’re invested in is more pronounced and obvious, since they can charge smokers higher health insurance premiums while at the same time profiting from the sale of cigarettes.
Investing in Fast Food is to Profit from Sickness
But as Boyd suggests, I believe a similar dynamic is absolutely at work with fast food as well.
For example, if you have a health condition like diabetes, you will typically end up paying more for your life insurance than if you have a clean bill of health. And although some insurance companies claim that it’s illogical for them to support anything that promotes disease promoting practices because higher mortality decreases their customer base, I would disagree.
People who are not feeling in tip-top shape are also far more likely to pay for health insurance in the first place, and with population growth as it is, I don’t think they’re really worried about running out of customers any time soon. They may however be worried about running out of SICK customers, who desperately want and need insurance.
Whether I’m right or wrong about their motives is inconsequential in this case, because the fact still remains that fast food is one of the leading causes of poor health in the US.
Declining health is a DIRECT effect of diet, and by investing in fast food companies they are promoting ill health and driving up health care costs, whether they intend to or not.
The Staggering Health Care Costs of Diet-Related Disease
Obesity and diet-related diseases are in fact far costlier than smoking, and they are just as preventable.
According to the latest statistics from the CDC, smokers incur health care costs of $96 billion a year in direct medical expenses.
Truly, the health care cost of smoking is dwarfed by the medical expenses caused by unhealthy food.
If you are obese, you will spend an average of 42 percent more on health care than someone of normal weight. This is just one of the reasons why I keep reiterating that someone needs to spend some quality time in the kitchen to prepare your meals.
Whether you or your spouse do it or you employ someone else to, someone needs to takethe time to cook your food from scratch.Using healthy whole unprocessed foods, is the least expensive health insurance you could ever wish for.
Every dollar you think you’re saving today by opting for processed fast food rather than cooking from scratch can turn into several dollars paid for eventual medical bills down the road.
Both obesity and type 2 diabetes are inextricably linked to your diet, so there is little doubt that the standard American diet is probably THE largest physical health concern that this country has to contend with today.
One of the saddest things about this whole mess is that it’s just as easy to make money from health; healthy people and a healthy society, as it is profiting from sickness.
It’s just a matter of mindset…
A sick society will make profits for pharmaceutical companies and the health care system, whereas a healthy society will make profits spread out over countless industries that don’t even have anything to do with health care, but with other goods, services and healthy activities.
But the other benefit that is virtually never factored into the equation is the increased productivity that the culture has when they are healthy. Not only will they take less sick time off, but when they are at work, they will have more energy and likely be far more productive and creative when they are providing their body with the fuel it was designed for.
Ending the Vicious Cycle Begins with You, at Home
For many people convenience food, either in restaurants or ready-to-cook frozen meals picked up from the grocery store, has become a way of life. This is sad not only from a health perspective but also from a cultural one. Each country has its own recipe traditions, local foods and flavors that have been preserved for many generations, but which are quickly falling by the wayside as people choose McDonald’s and other fast foods over home-cooked meals.
In the United States, 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is for processed food, and fast food is available just about everywhere, including in hospitals and schools.
What is interesting is that most people know that fast food is “not good for you,” yet still choose to eat it. For a clear, real-life demonstration of just HOW BAD it actually is, go ahead and watch Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “SuperSize Me”. It’s a real eye-opener.
Another great resource, if you want the inside scoop, is the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. It does an outstanding job of identifying the problems of fast-food diets.
What Makes Fast Food so Tempting?
Knowing the risks, why do so many people sit down to a fast-food meal once, twice, or numerous times in a week?
There are a number of reasons but my best guess is that it would be related to taste, convenience and cost. Plus, the large amounts of sugar, salt and grease in fast food are clearly addictive.
There is also the convenience factor. Fast food is, well, fast, and it takes very little effort to pull up to a drive through and get a meal for your family (albeit a disastrous one).
Finding the time, and the financial resources, to make healthy meals for your family can be challenging, but please don’t use these as excuses to exist on fast food. It really is vital to maintain a long-term perspective with regard to what you eat. Please don’t exchange convenience for a bed in the ICU or an early ticket out of this life.
Your health -- your energy levels, your appearance, your mood and so many other factors -- will improve when you eat the foods your body was designed for. Returning to a diet of locally grown, fresh whole foods is really the only way to reach optimal health.
If price is a factor in your food choices, please do read my 14 tips to eat healthy on a tight budget, and for those who are time-challenged, you can find quick, home-cooking tips in the article How to Cook Whole Food From Scratch--and Keep Your Day Job!
Like many of you, I have very little free time in my life, but still I am committed to preparing over 95 percent of my meals in order to preserve my health. It is a commitment, a truly important one, and it CAN be done.
A major leap forward would be to strive for a diet of 90 percent non-processed food and only 10 percent from other sources. Yes, it takes more time and energy to follow an individualized nutrition plan than to eat fast food, but doing so could:
- Add years to your lifespan
- Give you more energy than you know what to do with
- Help you avoid cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis
Surely, it’s worth it.