Life and Health Insurance Companies are Fattening Up

Life and health insurance companies own stock in the fast food industry.

Life and health insurance companies have a health problem.  They are “fattening up.”  The culprit?  The fast food industry.  But, the “girth” of these companies isn’t necessarily coming from consuming fast food, rather, the growth is a result of investing in them.  A study conducted by Harvard researchers, and published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that 11 prominent life and health insurance companies own $1.88 billion dollars worth of stocks in 5 popular fast food chains (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s/Arby’s Group, Jack in the Box, and Yum! Brands -owner of Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, and others).

A conflict of interest?  Some say very much so, especially in light of the fact that our nation is faced with an obesity epidemic – with childhood obesity being of particular concern.  Fast food meals, with their high caloric and fat content, play a role in this epidemic and in the development of its associated diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.  Children are highly targeted by fast food industry marketing tactics.  And, there are a greater number of fast food restaurants located in minority and lower-income neighborhoods.

What should be done about this “disconnect” between the life and health insurance companies mission to promote health and their financial investments in an industry that is linked to the development of chronic disease?  The researchers have a few suggestions. First, They propose that the life and health insurance companies should remove their funds from the fast food chains, as well as any other investments in industries whose products are detrimental to the health of the general public.  Second, the authors of the study indicate that the life and health insurance companies should use their holdings as leverage to persuade the fast food industry to make changes that promote the health of their consumers (e.g., portion control, reduce caloric and fat content, etc.,).

In order for our nation to combat the current obesity epidemic, all sectors of society need to assume responsibility and alter their practices to ones that promote health rather than contribute to the development of disease.

What do you think the life and health insurance companies should do with their investments?  Share your opinion, we want to know!

Share

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under obesity, restaurant meals

3 responses to “Life and Health Insurance Companies are Fattening Up

  1. I am applauding the article in today’s forum; “Health insurance companies invest billions in fast food chains”. If our health insurers expect us, their clients, to do the right thing such as eat healthy, do not smoke, etc. to keep costs down why are they not expected to “do the right thing”? It is as if my physician advises me to stop smoking and set a good example but he decides it is in his best interest to smoke. Talk about hypocrisy!!

  2. It seems as though the health insurers are saying we only the clients should be responsible for good health habits. If the health insurer decides to invest in a company that produces a product that is harmful to our health it is ok if it makes the investors a profit. What a great article!!

  3. kim

    What a major conflict of interest!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s