In all the talk about health care sustainability we lose sight of the fact that the interventions that cost the least and are likely to have the biggest impact on population health take place outside the confines of the Ministry of Health.
Regulation has become a dirty word, made so by those who have a vested interest in making profits from activities that may not necessarily be in our best interests.
As a public we all subsidize this bad behavior in part through higher health care costs. Ottawa’s Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, for example, points out that a single serving Coca Cola bottle of our grandparents’ generation was less than a third of the size of what kids buy today at a typical vending machine or corner store. Three times the sugar, three times the calories. While I can hear the howls of freedom of choice from here, we have less freedom of choice when it comes to all of us paying the health costs related to rising rates of diabetes.
What if we were to regulate the soft drink industry to establish a standard size for a single-serving beverage? Would the wheels of industry come to a halt? Would thousands be thrown out of work? Of course not.
We don’t regulate for several reasons. For starters we keep on electing people to office who oppose the idea of government. Secondly, these same people have persuaded us that we can’t trust government. Third we have replaced our faith in government with a blind faith in business even though the root of many of our modern-day scandals is in the relationship between the two.