Why should knowing about health effects of social policies change the value that Americans place on those policies?
Knowing about the health impacts of various social policies should change the value that Americans place on those policies both for ethical and for economic reasons.
On the one hand, health issues are ethical issues. For example, let us look at the impact of policies having to do with school lunches. When we allow schools to serve unhealthy foods for lunches and breakfasts, we are potentially harming the health of the children who attend those schools. Since poorer children are more likely to be eating school food (which they can get for free or at reduced prices), they are disproportionately impacted. From an ethical point of view, it is important that we not put in place policies that will tend to reduce people’s health.
On the other hand, health issues are also economic issues. The cost of health care is rising rapidly and is a major problem that our country faces today. If we pursue policies that make people less healthy, we are essentially increasing the health care costs that will impact us all in one way or another.
For these reasons, we should change our views of social policies to some degree based on their impact on public health.