I’ve been watching closely as “sin taxes” on alcohol, cigarettes and even tanning beds have been discussed and implemented in the name of public health and balanced budgets. I’ve heard dissenting voices – mostly from the political opponents of those proposing the taxes – but the average Jill, Jack, Jane (or Joan) seem to be surprisingly silent on the issue of taxes as tools for behavior modification.

I suppose I can understand it. Other than lobbyists for the tobacco, booze or tanning lobbies, who wants to die on the hill of defending the rights of people to die of lung cancer, melanoma or the host of diseases that can be an outcome of drinking to excess? And yet, there is something about it that gives me pause.
The same goes for the healthcare debate. Given the sheer volume of information out there and the resulting challenge to understanding exactly what it will look like in practice, my jury is still out on whether this new system will help or hinder those in need from receiving easier access to better healthcare. That said, I’ve wondered whether we might see the “sin tax” line inch closer to incentives (or disincentives) that might impose on personal freedom in the name of reducing healthcare overhead.
Then I came across the following article…

STUDY: Breast-feeding would save lives, money

by Linsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO – The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 percent of U.S. women fed their babies breast milk only for the first six months of life, a cost analysis says.

Those startling results, published online Monday in the journal of Pediatrics, are only an estimate. But several experts who reviewed the analysis said the methods and conclusions seem sound.

“The health care system has got to be aware that breast-feeding makes a profound difference,” said Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics‘ breast-feeding section.

The findings suggest that there are hundreds of deaths and many more costly illnesses each year from health problems that breast-feeding may help prevent. These include stomach viruses, ear infectionsasthma, juvenile diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and even childhood leukemia.

The magnitude of health benefits linked to breast-feeding is vastly underappreciated, said lead author Dr. Melissa Bartick, an internist and instructor at Harvard Medical School. Breast-feeding is sometimes considered a lifestyle choice, but Bartick calls it a public health issue

Wait, What was that? 

“Breast-feeding is sometimes considered a lifestyle choice…but Bartick calls it a public health issue“.

You can read the rest of this article here and see the comments of many women who either cannot or choose not to breast-feed their children weigh in on this. In the meantime, I find myself wondering if we will begin to see more studies like this over the coming months and, if so, whether they will be effective in shifting existing lines between what we currently consider a “lifestyle choice” and what may become a “public health issue”.  

Love to hear your thoughts…
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