Sorry, No, People Dying Of Salt Saves The NHS Money

We’re less than convinced around here concerning this war on salt. Levels in the bloodstream – the only thing that’s important – are self-regulated in humans. Anyone with a functioning pair of kidneys has very little correlation between salt in diet and levels of salt that remains in the body – the excess is excreted.

We’re also pretty keen on this liberty thing around here, if people prefer to die having eaten food that tastes of something then well done to them, their life, their death, who are we to intervene? The answer often given is that salt consumption costs the NHS money, we all pay for the NHS and therefore there’s a societal right to intervention. This is not so:

Every 1g reduction in people’s average salt intake has been estimated to prevent 7,000 deaths a year from strokes and heart attacks – and save the NHS £1.5bn.

The thing is, in a health care system which provides life long cover people dying young saves that system cash. Because people don’t survive to require further health care treatment obviously enough. Someone keeling over from a stroke or heart attack at 75 does require that decade of Alzheimer’s care from the age of 80.

Someone who is the head of the NHS, someone responsible for spending £120 billion or so of our money, really should understand this following point. Fatties, boozers and gaspers save the NHS money, not cost it.

In more detail:

The researchers found that from age 20 to 56, obese people racked up the most expensive health costs. But because both the smokers and the obese people died sooner than the healthy group, it cost less to treat them in the long run.

On average, healthy people lived 84 years. Smokers lived about 77 years and obese people lived about 80 years. Smokers and obese people tended to have more heart disease than the healthy people.

Cancer incidence, except for lung cancer, was the same in all three groups. Obese people had the most diabetes, and healthy people had the most strokes. Ultimately, the thin and healthy group cost the most, about $417,000, from age 20 on.

The cost of care for obese people was $371,000, and for smokers, about $326,000.

It’s still entirely possible that there could be reasons to limit salt intake. But saving money in the NHS simply isn’t one of them, quite the opposite is true. It’s something of a puzzle that so much public policy is based upon such a misunderstanding of reality. Perhaps these people really do think we should all be eating tasteless mush instead of enjoying life?

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Rhoda KlappDodgy Geezer Recent comment authors
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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

That set of stats is from the NYT in 2008. If not earlier elsewhere.

https://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/health/05iht-obese.1.9748884.html

The $371k is therefore bollocks. AND if the cutoff for obese coming up with this figure isn’t given it is meaningless even in 2008. The whole story is dubious to say the least. Just like the Pirie growth story above, it seems impossible to get the truth out in the face of relentless propaganda from axe-grinders.

Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

…Someone who is the head of the NHS, someone responsible for spending £120 billion or so of our money, really should understand this following point. Fatties, boozers and gaspers save the NHS money, not cost it…. Who cares whether fatties, boozers and gaspers live or die? The NHS certainly doesn’t. What the NHS cares about is the continued existence of the NHS – ideally with ever-increasing budgets. For this to happen, there has to be an increasing number of people who can be treated. Not who NEED treatment – that’s far too complex an issue to do budget projections on.… Read more »