America’s Obese Future
Within the next decade, one in four Americans will be “severely obese,” 100 pounds overweight, with over half the population being run of the mill medically obese. Alarming findings such as these, published by the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this week, are rarely viewed in a political light, but the consequences of such trends are of great consequence to your monthly budget.
The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are $190.2 billion, nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States – and costs are only rising. Any form of healthcare insurance pool will contain both healthy and unhealthy individuals, with the number of unhealthy participants radically displacing healthy ones. In both public and private scenarios, healthy participants will be forced to pay for the increased costs without ever receiving an increased service. As with so many issues in America, we subsidize behavior we don’t want and penalize the behavior we should prize – then wonder why negative trends continue through multiple generations
While important to hold individuals to high standards, placing all the blame on the currently and soon to be obese Americans leaves a crucial piece of this puzzle unfilled. Fifty years ago, the poor were underweight, not directly correlated with being the most obese population in the country. Low nutrition, highly processed items are passed off at value as food, with little concern over long-term outcomes of the consumer. While cheap foods and sugary drinks might make certain corporations a lot of money, America can’t afford to continue feeding its people the product of frugal imaginations, void of concern over public health.