Can Obesity Economics Favor Treatment?

Doctors aren’t the only people worried about our weight. Economists are concerned, too. Because of obesity economics, people living longer with diseases caused by excess weight adds up to major economic blow.

At a meeting of the American Economic Association held just after news of the Flegel study broke, economists groaned. The study suggests that having just a little excess weight won’t hurt and might help life expectancy. (Note: the overall finding of the study, that excess weight and obesity generally leads to higher mortality and morbidity rates, was largely ignored by the media.)

As economists reasoned, if people with excess weight and obesity are going to get chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension and live longer, the burden to our economy will increase. The picture of America’s future painted by the economics of obesity is not pretty. Economists may be able to help. Some are pushing for economics-orientated solutions such as raising taxes on sugary beverages or changing the way physicians are reimbursed for treatment of obesity.

Right now, it’s easier for doctors to get paid for treating the diseases caused by obesity and excess weight than it is to get reimbursed for helping their patients learn to prevent obesity. And whether you’re an economist or a concerned citizen, that’s just nuts.

Click here to read more in the New York Times.

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