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Forget the Nordic Diet. Try their Tax Plan


Forget the Nordic Diet. Try their Tax Plan.

Keith Payne

The best way to improve Americans' life expectancy isn't some fad diet. It's to reduce inequality.

Medical evidence suggests that differences in lifespans across countries are better explained by social conditions than diet. Researchers have found that among economically developed countries, income inequality is a major predictor of longevity.


I never thought about longevity in this way, but it makes much more sense than diet. Then again, diet is involved because poorer have less healthier options or at least tend to eat less healthier (maybe due to education, etc.).


Remember the original settlers raped, pillaged and plunged the native tribal people, and these are their descendants.


Gee, who really wants to be a “superager” in this day and age? Just because someone lives longer does not mean they live better.


I think I posted this to the wrong article.


Americans pretty much get the “short end of the stick” compared with the rest of the developed world. Name another developed country that has as many people who can’t afford health care. (answer, there isn’t one)

Using the figures given by the State of Michigan, using Medicaid as a “Basic Health Plan”, the total cost of putting everyone on Medicaid would be less than two trillion dollars a year. Those below twice the federal poverty level get put on at no cost. Those with higher incomes pay a portion of the cost up to the point where they’d pay full cost. For those who want more, they would be able to buy Medicaid Advantage plans from private insurance companies. So for 10% of our GDP, we’d have universal coverage.


Before WW II Japan was 42nd in the world in longevity. It was ruled by 13 corporations and the military. After WW II their constitution was made by Gen. McCarthur’s staff of New Deal lawyers. They eliminated the military, installed a universal health care system and made it illegal for corporate executives to make more than 10 times their workers. Presto they went to number 1 despite the men smoking at higher rates than Americans. In Latin America Costa Rica with no military has highest longevity. In Europe and the world the Swiss with no military are right behind Japan followed by Andorra and San Martin, all with no military and a high fat dairy based diet. Guns or butter? The healthy choice seems clear


No, the poor do have poorer diets, but what’s killing poor people living in an unequal societies is the 24-hour-a-day stress. The also applies to the the rich who live in those same unequal societies. They also die sooner.

And this fact - that the only reliable predictor of heart disease in all members of a society is the level of inequality in that society - has been fairly well known for decades.


As a public health official, I agree that the stress from social inequality kills people. As a Nutritionist, I think people totally misunderstand nutrition and longevity. There’s really no nutritional superbullet that will make you live longer. There is only a nutritionally adequate/balanced diet that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function properly. How you use your body through out your life has a great effect on how long your body will last you. Put your face against a grinding wheel and you won’t last long no matter how much anti-oxidants you have in your diet. Be grateful for your job with an employer that has no interest in reducing the amount of stress you have to deal with at the job? Why?


Who wants to be a superager? Depends on what country they live in.


Good article. But longevity is only one measure. Another important one is quality of life. And it doesn’t take an article to make the case that big inequalities in a society are not conducive to good quality of life for the majority of its people.


IMHO, the diets of the long-life countries – all of which, IIRC, contain MUCH less sugar than ours – is only part of the explanation.  Of course lack of a living wage generally precludes least a decent diet, and often leads to life-shortening malnutrition and even starvation.  The real key to the longer lives in most of the countries men­tioned is not less inequality per se, provided that most of their citizens can afford an adequate diet, but lies in the last part of the last sentence in the article – Affordable Health Care is the primary key to a longer life.

Surely an objective study could be done to neutralize the other variables and evaluate this supposition . . .


Maybe someone has already done this, but the next step would be to evaluate peoples who still live in traditional societies, by which I mean societies with small groups of people living much as they have for centuries, and with few links to the global economy and global media. These societies tend to be very egalitarian, but also “poor” in the sense that they may have little access to modern medicine. How long do their people live, I wonder? Can we estimate at all the effect on longevity of living in a society where everyone knows each other and no one has the kind of authority over another that modern societies have?


It’s called statistics. Rich people live longer than poor people, but, there’s (at least currently) a biological cap to how long you can live, no matter how rich you are. By the same token, there’s no limit to how young you can die. As a result, inequality skews the curve.

The issue isn’t inequality per se, it is that we need to find a way to raise standard of living of the poor.


To go along with affordable healthcare and decent living expenses has to include affordable good food, not just processed crap which is cheaper than organically grown veggies and toss in a little healthy meats and one earn close to six figures to avail themselves of this healthy food. I know I can’t afford it on my fixed disability income and I know how to cook healthy as I cooked for a living for 35 years. no, the government only cares about the well to do and their taxes not the rest of the poor struggling to just exist.