Problem: we are all fat, and even those of us who aren’t are being forced to pay for things to accommodate the new, larger comforts required of the overweight, such as bigger toilets in hospitals, and bigger seats in public transportation! Conveying our cars across space requires a billion more gallons of gasoline per year now than if we were to weigh what we weighed in the 1960s, when we were all beanpoles and McDonald’s was about ten years into its quest for world domination. Reuters, gathering data from a study called the Campaign to End Obesity and research from economists at Duke University and others has itemized the bill for us and we shall all die of poverty if not obesity, unless we are bariatric or heart surgeons, or endocrinologists, who are doing quite well! But our one saving grace is that smokers “die early enough that they save Social Security, private pensions, and Medicare” a vast amount of money, in the trillions, which helps offset the cost of the overweights a little bit. Great! Let’s all smoke.
Here are some of the findings:
- Since 1960, “[w]hat seems to have happened is that for every healthy-weight person who ‘graduated’ into overweight, an overweight person graduated into obesity.”
- Owing to health conditions sparked by obesity, obese men are said to take 5.9 more sick days a year than people of healthy weights, and obese women 9.4 more sick days per year.
- “Obesity-related absenteeism costs employers as much as $6.4 billion a year,” according to Duke economists.
- The Duke economists also believe that “presenteeism,” work-related productivity issues related to obese workers’ health problems, costs employers $30 billion a year. (What of Farmville and Bejeweled and Twitter and such, which victimize us all, regardless of weight?)
- It also doesn’t help the problem (or the economy) that obese Americans are likely to be discriminated against in the workplace: they make significantly less than their healthy-weight counterparts. Obese women, on average, make 11 percent less than healthy-weight women (and a million percent less than healthy-weight men).
- There’s the obvious statistic: medical spending, with obese men accruing $1,152 more in medical expenses per year, and obese women $3,613.
- We consume an additional 938 million gallons of gasoline per year due to obesity.
- “The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s hospital, the nation’s fourth largest, has widened doors, replaced wall-mounted toilets with floor models able to hold 250 pounds or more, and bought plus-size wheelchairs (twice the price of regulars) as well as mini-cranes to hoist obese patients out of bed.”
Mini-cranes. Surely there’s a nicer way of putting that. And no word on the obvious or insidious things that may be causing obesity, or exacerbating it, like, oh, maybe genetic mutations or brain chemistry changes resulting from eating strawberry fish and drinking Agent Orange water. Then there’s the news that obesity-related diabetes in children progresses more rapidly than in adults, but thank god for maple-flavored Eggo cereal, to make it all better! [Reuters]