The High Cost of Obesity

It seems that it’s very much in the nature of human nature to expect more without having more expected of us.  Because so much energy is being focused on the cost of health care and the proposed programs for universal health insurance, the flip side of the equation is starting to get attention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled a free website application last week called LEANWorks, designed to motivate employers to start “healthy living” and weight loss programs for their employees, because being overweight is a major cause of certain illnesses, and also contributes to missed work days and higher insurance costs.  Of course, representatives of organizations like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance are up in arms over this.

A keystone to the LEANWorks program is the “obesity cost calculator” for companies to estimate how much their obese and overweight employees are costing them in higher insurance rates and missed work days each year.  The ultimate point is to get preventive programs in place.

Of course, the “fat advocates” don’t want responsibility – just perks.  They are claiming everything from prejudice to discrimination.  In their view, facts are irrelevant.  It’s just their “feelings” that count. 

It’s no secret that obesity is a big risk factor for chronic diseases.  Obesity has accounted for over 25% of the rise in medical costs between 1987 and 2001, according to Dr. Bill Dietz, Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the CDC.  While it is also true that people of normal weight have medical issues which result in work day losses and higher insurance costs, most of their conditions are not as controllable as excess body fat.

It is the moral responsibility of those who are overweight and obese, of those who smoke, of those who abuse alcohol and various drugs to correct their activities for the greater good of the community which has to take on responsibility for the negative consequences of their behavior, and their lack of self-discipline and commitment to health.

If the greater “we” is responsible for taking financial hits in order to cater to the predictable consequences of your actions, then you become accountable to the greater “we,” and we cut out the nonsense about discrimination and prejudice against fat.  It isn’t healthy, plain and simple.  And now that you think about it, it isn’t fair, either.