Observations on life

Obesity costs money

By now most people know the adverse health consequences of obesity, but how many of us think about the direct and indirect costs?

The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are high. In 2008 dollars, these costs were estimated to be $147 billion. ($167 billion in 2017)

The annual nationwide productive costs of obesity obesity-related absenteeism range between $3.38 billion ($79 per obese individual) and $6.38 billion ($132 per obese individual). Source: CDC

Between our health habits, fraud and waste we can account for why health care in the US is a cost outlier in the world.

We are our own worst enemy – (and a single payer system is not going to change much of that unless we accept major changes in the delivery of care – changes like in the UK where obese people are denied certain types of surgery because there is no positive cost/benefit).

2 replies »

  1. Here is another indirect cost that we often do not think of with the problem of obesity. There was a USA Today article on Jan 10, 2018 that reported that the Army is having more trouble finding fit soldiers. Back in WWII, 50% of the recruits were fit for military service, now its only 23%.

    In my case, my fitness level started dropping off in my late 30’s and I can give all kinds of BS excuses and other causes (just supersize me) but it is still within my power to change. What to me is really troubling is that 77% of the kids are leaving high schools are unfit and they are just starting their lives.

    A sugar tax is not the answer because the calories are not all coming directly from cane sugar. The availability of large food quantities and varying junk food portions are just overwhelming even for the average person or at least 77% of them. It seems the worst the “food” is for you, the more it is marketed, and the cheaper it is. In the 1970’s “lite” beer was marketed and now its high calorie IPA beers that are the choice of the younger drinkers.

    We could just tax the calorie count say a dime for every 100 calories and put the money toward Medicare, but then our food stamp program will cost more too. Since any solutions to obesity will cause Wall Street and Madison Ave to lose money, it will be a problem that may never get solve in my life time just like the national debt, property taxes, and pension reform.


  2. I agree 100%. Unfortunately, it is not socially acceptable to suggest anyone, particularly women may be overweight. They even coined the phrase “fat shaming” to describe it. The problem doesn’t seem to be related to race or socio economic status. Instead we feature grossly overweight people in reality TV; provide front door parking and motorized carts at stores, over sized wheel chairs at the hospital and hydraulic lifts to move patients from bed to bed. Even the country’s most famous celebs the Kardashian’s promote having a big rear end as a thing of beauty. Just look at any pre-1990 movie or television show to compare Americans today to what we used to look like.My wife has worked in retail for over 40 years and she was saying the other day that just 5 years ago the stores would get just a few XL sizes of clothing but today it is double and triple XL outnumbering the stock they display.


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