Learn how to begin thinking about health as an asset. Esther Dyson discusses short-term solutions, philanthropy, taxes on added sugars, more funding for prevention, and long-term policy changes.
- You and I have just talked about all the problems. What about the solutions? What can we do now? There's a lot we can do now. Most of it won't pay off until the long term, but the sooner we start, the faster things will change for the better. There's almost no new science here. We're not trying to discover something new. We're trying to apply what we already know. It's about nutrition, education, behavior, social fabric, all that kind of stuff.
But actually making it happen. So, it's gonna require behavior change. Not just for the mom who now needs to once it's easier for her, feed her children healthily. It's also for social workers, of which we need a lot more. It's for health code. Just as for teachers understanding that the kids who act out weren't put there to torment them, but are actually kids who have problems at home, and needs someone to have their back. It's high school coaches talking to their students about nutrition as well as you gotta play the game better.
It's the whole system working in collaboration with health coaches out in the community. It's building designers talking to the doctors about, oh yeah we need more stairs and maybe we put the elevators at the back. It's having sidewalks that are safe to walk along. It's the police understanding that the best way to deal with crime is again to reduce it rather than just to throw people in jail. Part of this involves the justice system because what makes kids delinquent? It's having parents who are away in jail.
What you will see is that all these pieces interact. If your dad is in jail, of course mom's gonna have a tough time taking care of the children. If she doesn't have enough money to buy food then the kids are gonna get sicker and be less healthy. So these problems all compound themselves. At the same time, once you start dealing with one or two, the others become easier to solve. So if you tax for example, added sugars, I think the general attitude on the part of food companies is, yeah we know it's gonna happen as long as you tax those guys as well as us, that's fine, but we can't disarm unilaterally.
It's kinda like selling cigarettes. CVS had the courage to stop selling cigarettes. The others are kinda waiting to be told to. But if they're told to, they'll deal with it as long as the other guy's dealing with that same law. It's not browbeating the food companies, it's more trying to turn them into allies and working together with them to help people want the kind of food that's going to make them feel better. I firmly believe the food companies are part of the solution long term.