Buying Health: The Costs of Commercialization and an Alternative Philosophy



1 Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA

2 Simple Health Change, Nashville, USA


This paper argues that commercial forces have steadily encroached into our understanding of medicine and health in modern industrial societies. The impact on the delivery of personal medical services and on common ideas about food and nutrition is profound and largely deleterious to public health. A key component of commercialization is reductionism of medical services, health products and nutritional components into small, marketable units. This reductive force makes both medical services and nutritional components more costly and is corrosive to more holistic concepts of health. We compare commercial and holistic approaches to nutrition in detail and offer an alternative philosophy. Adopting this alternative will require sound public policies that rely less on marketing as a distribution system and that enfranchise individuals to be reflective on their use of medical services, their food and nutrition choices, and their larger health needs.


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