According to Reuters, America's soaring obesity rates are responsible for $190 billion a year in excess medical spending with the non-obese suffering financially as a result through higher insurance premiums.
With escalating health care costs and the rising costs of health insurance, this is a serious issue. What bothers me is it is mostly conservatives who seem to be staunchly opposed to health care reform and it is conservatives who continuously rant about how liberals want to spend, spend, spend.
I wonder if they've considered the highest obesity rates are attributed to the most conservative states? As stated by Reuters, expanding waistlines are also attributed to more gasoline use. We're burning "nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than if passengers weighed what they did in 1960."
While smoking had been considered the biggest factor in excess medical spending, the honor now goes to obesity. While the U.S. health care reform law of 2010 does allow employers to charge more for medical insurance if their employees refuse to participate in a wellness program, advocacy groups have formed claiming "size discrimination."
While conservatives fight tooth and nail against paying for birth control and just about any social program, many seem to be fine paying for those who choose to be lazy and overweight. I'm not referring to the small percentage who might have a medical condition that results in obesity, but those who refuse to take charge of their own health.
USA Today reported the highest obesity rates per state, and it's not surprising that of the top 10 states with the highest rates of obese residents, nine tend to be red or conservative states based on the 2008 election results.
Republicans have referred to the unemployed as lazy and they often call those who believe health care should be a given right to all Americans "socialists," in addition to a number of other ridiculous monikers.
The statistics don't lie. If conservatives are truly appalled at paying out of their own pockets for the costs of their fellow citizens, the first thing they might want to do is take a look at themselves and consider how they might be contributing to the rising costs of healthcare.
Obesity causes decreased work productivity in addition to a long list of health problems that could be avoided just by losing weight through exercise and eating right. According to a paper by scientists at the Mayo Clinic, as reported by Reuters, obesity contributes 20 percent to increased medical costs while morbid obesity contributes an additional 50 percent.
Engineer Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois stated that an additional "938 million gallons of gasoline each year," is due to "overweight and obesity in the United States, or 0.8 percent." $4 billion extra every year.
Sobering statistics and certainly something for everyone in our nation to consider as they drive up to the window of their favorite fast food joint.
By K.C. Dermody