April 21, 2013
Economic Crash Was Good For Health In Cuba

Take away the gasoline and limit the supply of food to drop the incidence of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

MAYWOOD, Il. The economic crash in Cuba following the fall of the Soviet Union has provided researchers with a unique natural experiment on obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

In the early 1990s, shortages of food and gasoline forced Cubans to eat less and do more walking and cycling. Adults lost, on average, 9 to 11 pounds, and type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease dropped sharply.

But after the economy began a slow but steady recovery, adults gradually gained back the weight they had lost, and then some. This weight gain was accompanied by a 116 percent increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. And while heart disease deaths continued to decline, the rate of decrease slowed markedly, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

The Euro debt crisis could deliver large public health benefits. Will life expectancies rise in Greece and Cyprus?

Have you ever eaten less food because you were poor?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 April 21 09:39 PM 

Ronald Brakels said at April 22, 2013 4:42 PM:

Health also improved in Britain during world war II. In this case it appeared mainly due to rationing improving the diet of a sizable portion of the population. (I assume they controlled for the effect of being exploded by Germans.) But Greece and Cyprus may be too rich to experience health benefits. People may respond by not paying for gym membership, buying cheaper model cars, and cutting back on fresh fruits and vegetables and eating more frozen pizza. Yesterday I found out I can buy 1,620 kilojoules of junkfood for 65 Australian cents. On a per kilojoule basis that's almost half the cost of the cheapest available vegetables and has the advantage of not needing refrigeration. Low cost junk food and transportation makes it difficult for economics to trump stomachs in rich countries.

Nick G said at April 23, 2013 11:39 AM:

It's more a matter of time, and education.

Home cooking is very cheap - you can't beat dried rice & beans - but it takes time and knowledge.

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