In SICKO, the left-liberal documentarian Michael Moore praised the Cuban health care system. But he failed to cite one of Cuban socialism's true health triumphs: the reduction of heart disease and diabetes during the 1990s. In September researchers at Johns Hopkins University published a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology that found that the Cuban economic collapse occasioned by the withdrawal of massive Soviet subsidies between 1989 and 2000 helped the Cuban people slenderize.
The study found that the crisis reduced per capita daily energy intake from 2,900 calories to 1,900 calories. Another benefit of a collapsed economy: Cubans had to walk more and do more physical labor. Deaths due to diabetes and heart disease dropped by half and a third, respectively.
North Koreans may have benefited from a similarly rigorous communist diet and exercise plan. In September, having just returned from a trip to the Hermit Kingdom, media mogul Ted Turner told GQ: "There weren't a lot of fat people walking around. They were all thin. And being thin is healthier than being fat." Then again, between 2 million and 3 million North Koreans probably starved to death during a famine in the 1990s, a tough break for the country's health statistics.
Manuel Franco, one of the Johns Hopkins researchers, said, "Future steps towards prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes should focus on long-term population-wide interventions by encouraging physical activity and the reduction of caloric intake." One hopes that Castro and Kim's "population-wide interventions" weren't what Franco had in mind.