Medical Costs and Obesity

Medical Costs and Obesity

On another site I was involved in a conversation about the link between obesity and medical care costs. The attached photo shows obesity rates on the left and medicare costs per person on the right (darker indicates higher rates). Correlation does not mean cause and effect but there is clearly a correlation, particularly in the southeast.

Big Gulps and Big Responsibility

As I write this post there are articles being posted that a judge in NYC has reversed Mayor Bloomberg’s large sugary drink ban.  My opinions on the ban are torn between two opposing thoughts.  

On the one hand, it seems that banning large sugary drinks is probably not very effective.  I can’t see how limiting large beverages is going to put a dent in a very complex obesity problem.  The larger concern that people raise is that it is a restriction of our freedoms.  We should be able to eat and drink whatever we want and do what we want to our bodies, right?

On the other hand, what we do to our bodies affects us all to some degree.  Health care costs related to obesity are extremely high and getting worse.  Because of the way our health care system is set up, those costs affect us all.  

So, while we all want to enjoy our personal freedom, with freedom comes responsibility.  While Mayor Bloomberg’s approach to this problem may have turned out to be ineffective, what actions should our elected leaders take to address the obesity problem in this country, if any?  If we want to retain our personal freedom, how do we also promote personal responsibility.  For people in favor of the ban I would say where does it stop?  What else can be banned?  For people who say they can eat and do whatever they want, I would say that is fine, just don’t ask the taxpayers to pay for your bad choices.  

The message is that freedom is not just a right we we enjoy, it is a responsibility we must take seriously.

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