Ending the Culture of Illness through Healthy Eating


[Editor’s note: To tap the wisdom of our distinguished group of Xconomists, we asked a few of them to answer this question heading into 2013: What makes you optimistic?]

As a person who has worked in the healthcare field for over 25 years, I am extremely optimistic about the recent trend towards the democratization of healthful behavior and good nutrition. We have finally gotten to a point where there is growing recognition across the nation that we can turn around our culture of illness by teaching our children about healthful eating and exercise from an early age.

While there are still food ghettos in many parts of the nation, nascent attempts to improve health are everywhere, from laws limiting access to giant sodas (one of the very worst offenders) to health-promoting trucks that visit urban areas with vegetables and fruit to teach children that these foods are fun and healthy (see Truck Farm) to tax incentives for grocery stores to locate themselves in the aforementioned food ghettos to employer-sponsored programs that reward healthy behavior.

The State of California has dedicated an entire task force to making California the healthiest state in the nation by 2022, starting with a bike that makes smoothies and ending with a statewide set of initiatives that are broad-reaching and targeted to all citizens.

More than half of our costly diseases, which compromise our national security, economy and quality of life, can be avoided by having a culture of wellness and good health.  By making healthy eating/exercise as much a part of our culture as brushing our teeth every day, we will make America healthier, our nation stronger and ensure that we turn around the trend towards shorter life spans and infirm old age.

It is heartening to see an article like this where we see the hint of success in a reduced number of obese children across the country.  If, as Michael Jackson said, the children are our future, we will have a much better future if they are healthier than their parents.

Efforts to make good health fun and cool, and the fact that they may actually be working, make me optimistic.

Lisa Suennen is a managing director with GE Ventures and former managing member of the Psilos Group, as well as the co-author of Tech Tonics: Can Passionate Entrepreneurs Heal Healthcare With Technology? and author of the blog Venture Valkyrie. Follow @venturevalkyrie

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2 responses to “Ending the Culture of Illness through Healthy Eating”

  1. cynicwithtaste says:

    “More than half of our costly diseases … can be avoided by having a culture of wellness and good health”

    I would like to see a link to the study(ies) that arrive at this conclusion, as well as what the true implications are for health care costs. Over half of diseases seems too high.

    If the implication is supposed to be that wellness programs could eliminate over 50% of healthcare costs, I will state that the logic doesn’t add up. We are, unfortunately, all going to die of something some day, and we are unfortunately also likely to suffer from various maladies as we age. So to imply that most of these costs would be truly saved – rather than spent later on treating whatever does ultimately result in one’s passing *, or spent along the way on care for conditions such as Alzheimer’s – is looking at only one side of the accounting.

    * Sources arriving at from approximately 20% to 30% of total health care costs are spent on care in the last year of life –



  2. SuperMom101 says:

    I had no idea about America’s processed, franken-fake food supply until I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer at the age of 38, and I thought I was eating healthy. I respectfully disagree with the comment below. I actually think the rate is much higher and it’s the “big, white elephant in the room” that no one wants to talk about when discussing health care costs.

    It’s so strange, America (and her children) have never been fatter, sicker or more malnourished and we can’t seem to figure out why.

    Thank you Lisa for your article. As Hippocrates said-

    Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.

    Best health always.