Every year in America, obesity causes an unbelievable estimate of 400,000 deaths and $190 billion in healthcare costs. Yes, billions. That’s over 20% of our entire medical spending. Now make sure to consider that this number is only for obesity, and not including general unhealthy levels of overweight as well. Otherwise, it’s likely the number would be much higher, considering how many medical problems are directly related to terrible eating and lack of exercise.
Even more staggering, obesity has (unsurprisingly?) been on the rise for decades.
People have not always been this heavy, so the idea that genetics plays a large role in obesity is simply counter-intuitive. The obesity rating in the 1920’s was abysmal, and evolutionary genetics do not change that drastically over such few years. In short, a genetic deviation would not just appear all over the first world and suddenly make 40% of the population overweight.
Just look at this graph:
It’s other symptoms at play here. And our government policies contribute significantly.
(If you’re into literature, check out my article covering the Russian Transition – Obesity)
Government Policies Incentivize Obesity
1. Lack of Education
Government fails epidemically at teaching children and young adults the importance of nutrition.
Basic classes on how to cook, which nutritional guidelines are truly important, and how to count calories are all fundamentally misunderstood by most of the population.
The truth is: calories in vs calories out is a great starting concept for losing weight. It doesn’t cover the important macro nutrients needed… But it will help anyone lose weight.
This basic building block of nutrition has largely been ignored in favor of fad diets and other disingenuous weight-loss plans.
2. Doctors Are Not Given the Tools Needed
Most doctors honestly do care tremendously about their patients. Otherwise, they would not have survived the grueling, over a decade long hardship required to get their M.D.
However, our current policies do not provide them the tools to effectively treat obesity.
One study found that only a third of patient visits resulted in a discussion on a strategy to tackle obesity.
The financial incentives for doctors are just not there. Nor do they have the time to do it, with all the paperwork and related barriers that our policies put in the way of our physicians.
3. The Healthcare Talk
Obamacare and healthcare in the US is setup to generally allow everyone an affordable healthcare insurance.
They have fought long and hard for public policies such as not allowing to discriminate based on preexisting conditions and other important gatekeepers to insurance prices.
What has this caused?
Now, someone that weighs 400 lbs can get insurance at a price relative to someone that has stayed in excellent physical shape.
Is this fair?
The individual who has worked hard, probably for decades, to remain healthy – has to subsidize the obese persons’ McDonalds addiction.
Financial incentives, much like incentives in general, are there to slyly convince a participant to choose a beneficial path.
But there is no financial incentive for obesity… Now. It should cost an overweight person more for their health insurance. This is because it will generally cost more to insure them over their lifetime.
But without that price hike, there is no incentive for them to lose weight. If you had to pay $50 more a month, just because you’re overweight – it would provide a great mental jump to go to the gym and eat healthier.
4. Our Advertising Does a Great Job at Promoting Over-Consumption
We target smokers endlessly. Through advertising, banning them in public areas, and the proliferation of smoking-cessation products we have effectively slaughtered smoking rates in the US.
This is because smoking causes horrific impact on the cost of healthcare.
But so does obesity.
So why aren’t we doing the same proactive assaults on obesity?
I believe it’s primarily because it ‘hurts peoples feelings’. But that shouldn’t matter; it’s an incredibly important epidemic to address. Especially as we are moving further to the left, and more socialized healthcare is seemingly becoming inevitable.
Policies should be targeted at obese individuals the same as they are for smokers. No exceptions. But instead: we promote over consumption through materialism and indulgence while also allowing obese people the freedom of receiving subsidized insurance prices.
5. The Culture Our Policies Enable
The culture in the US (enabled by the government) caters to the obese. Through the destruction of the family unit, to companies catering to the bottom line – all have drastic effects on how our culture directly correlates with obesity rates.
Check out the article “The Effects and Implications of The Culture of Obesity” for a better idea.
Obesity is without a doubt, an epidemic.
We need to start addressing these issues as quickly as possible. By turning a blind eye, we’re hurting the next generations… and our own wallets in the process.
The policies we implement are major reasons behind this rise of obesity. By focusing our attention on them, we may be able to finally see some honest change over the coming years.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!