Could eating 100 fewer calories each day save America $58 billion dollars a year? It just might, according to a recent analysis attempting to quantify the potential medical cost savings that might result if Americans consumed fewer calories and cut back on sodium and saturated fat (1). According to the report, which used scientific research articles to identify relationships between diet, body mass index, blood pressure and blood cholesterol (LDL) and then develop models to predict disease risk based on the improvements in each resulting from dietary change, this small reduction might eliminate an estimated 71.2 million cases of overweight and obesity in America. And among those with uncontrolled high blood pressure, cutting out 400 mg of sodium per day, about the amount in half of a typical cup of soup, might eliminate 1.5 million cases of high blood pressure for a savings of $2.3 billion dollars each year. The report also predicted that by removing 4 g of saturated fat a day, which is about the amount in half a cup of regular chocolate ice cream, America could potentially eliminate 3.9 million cases of elevated blood cholesterol for a saving of $1.6 billion dollars each year, suggesting that small changes really can add up in a big way!
(1) Dall, T., et al. (2009). Am J Health Promot. 23(6): 412-422.