The twisted path from farm subsidies to health care expenditures


Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions, including but not limited to the following: hypertension; osteoarthritis; dyslipidemia; type 2 diabetes; coronary heart disease and stroke. Consequently, individuals who are obese are more likely to use health services and are more likely to use costly health services than non-obese individuals. Between 1987 and 2001, growth in obesity related health expenditures accounted for 27 percent of the growth in inflation-adjusted per capita health care spending. Researchers, popular press and the television news media have paid considerable attention to the effect that farm subsidies have on dietary habits and obesity. Prominent researchers in the field have concluded that US farm subsidies have had a negligible impact on obesity. However, even small increases in obesity rates are associated with higher health care expenditures. The primary intent of this study is to break down the linkages from farm subsidy to health expenditure and shed light on the unintended implications of the farm subsidy program. We find that agricultural subsidies have the potential to influence health care expenditures.

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Bernell, S. (2012) The twisted path from farm subsidies to health care expenditures. Health, 4, 1509-1513. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.412A216.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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