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Health prevention does save money

August 7, 2008
by Tom Newton
Des Moines Register

In a July 22 Register column, Froma Harrop asserted that disease-prevention programs cannot save money in the long run ("The Soaring Cost of Healthy People"). Truth is, they can and do. A recent report by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) concluded that an investment of $10 per person per year in community-based disease-prevention programs could yield a net savings of $16 billion within five years. That's the equivalent of a 5.6 percent return on investment. In Iowa, this represents a net savings of more than $165 million. We are beginning to see a shift towards prevention as an investment in Iowa. In the 2008 legislative session, several notable initiatives were passed, including $900,000 for wellness grants to communities, a statewide smoke-free-air act and steps to increase food standards and requirements for physical activity in schools. The Wellmark Foundation has invested more than a $1 million this year to fund efforts to prevent childhood obesity and promote community-based wellness and prevention.

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