This Week’s Report: “Preventing Disease”

With health care costs rising sharply, medical experts and policy makers – including the Obama administration – are placing more and more emphasis on preventive measures to ward off chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Key targets of the preventive-health movement are smoking and obesity– the nation’s two biggest killers.

But as veteran health reporter Nellie Bristol notes in this week’s report, the prevention push faces financial and ideological roadblocks. Concerns over the federal budget deficit could result in sharp cuts to a signature Obama program – the $15 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund, enacted as part of the 2010 health care reform law. And, as Bristol writes, “critics of the preventive health movement say the ‘obesity epidemic’ has been overblown by public health officials and is a ruse to allow meddling in personal choices.”

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor