Thursday, August 20, 2009

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey garnered a lot of attention with a recent Wall Street Journal column in which he opposed health reform legislation in favor of increased "personal responsibility." The column drew an interesting rebuttal from Dr. Rahul Parikh, a pediatrician in the San Francisco Bay Area and a frequent contributor to and The Health Care Blog.

Parikh says Mackey's view, while widely shared, "doesn’t take into account the socio-economic factors that pressure many Americans into chronic illness." He said that reality was impressed upon him by a recent trip to the supermarket in which he set a budget of $40.

"I spent half of that money on fresh, healthy foods and the other half on processed foods," Parikh says. "I took my grocery bags home and counted up the calories per d ollar that I spent on both types of foods. For the healthier choices, I got 140 Calories per dollar; for the processed foods, I got 370 Calories per dollar. "

"...Add the consequences of my little experiment to some other factors, like the lack of access to fresh foods in poorer communities (Mr. Mackey, do you have any stores in low-income areas?), or a lack of safe places to get out and exercise, and you can see that prevention has as much to do with class, income, and communities as it does with personal responsibility," the doctor concludes.


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