Saturday, August 15, 2009

Policy Proposal: Time To Get Skinny

I have some not very PC views on obesity. I fully agree with this article that talks about how unhealthy behaviors should be taxed and the burden of behavioral based societal externalities should be born by they people who create those extra costs. This is not to say that if you have poor genetics that you should not be given some dispensation, but for the 40% of obesity that can be reduced by behavior, you should be expected to change you behavior.


Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree.

It’s very easy to say that obesity is a result of eating too much, but that is a broad generalization. Many people are making an honest effort to be thin, but with so much conflicting information (low-fat, low-carb, “diet” foods that aren’t…) they are not succeeding. In this day and age food companies are putting all kinds of unexpected ingredients in the things we buy. If you don’t read all labels very carefully you’re ingesting things you don’t know about. Who would expect there to be sugar in my table salt? Or cold cuts? Grocery stores are full of “low-fat” salad dressings and countless other items that are full of sugar. I say, if you’re going to tax anybody, tax the manufacturers who do crazy things to our food, not their victims. (Although that is a slippery slope, too. I have not forgotten the lawsuit against the fast food chains for making people fat. That was ridiculous, of course.)

Yes, having an underactive thyroid truly can make people obese, as can some medications. The dogma that “fat people are lazy” really drives me nuts. Furthermore, it’s been in the news that the poor tend to be unhealthy because they cannot afford nutritious food, and certainly can’t afford a gym membership. To then charge them more for their health insurance seems an unfair burden. With so many already uninsured, many more would be forced into those ranks.

The article claims that obesity causes diabetes. How can we be sure that unhealthy living does not cause diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity simultaneously in some people - while others may be at risk without being obese? Just because a person is thin, that does not mean they are healthy, or well nourished. (After two years in Mali, I don’t have to tell you that!) ;-) Should people battling anorexia be surcharged, too? What about drug and alcohol abusers? What about people who live near irresponsible companies as in the story of Erin Brockovich? (Sorry, can’t remember the details of the story except that the community had a high rate of cancer and it was not their fault.)

Finally, BMI is not an accurate measurement of health. Under Cosgrove’s proposal, bodybuilders, for example, would have to pay higher insurance premiums due to high BMI.

Ok, that’s all I can think of for now. I love a debate and I love you, Michelle! :-)


Anonymous said...

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