Obesity: Is it the new health care reform buzz word?

A recently released study by the journal "Health Affairs" is making some large waves across the Internet.

The study outlines medical expenditure data related to the direct costs of obesity in this country. MSNBC quotes the study as stating "...medical spending averages $1,400 more a year for an obese person than someone who's normal weight."

Setting aside the fundamentals of the issue for the moment, one has to wonder how our legislators, who tend to write more documentation than they read, will take the fact that obesity now accounts for 9.1% of all medical spending, up from 6.5% in 1998, and translate that data into health reform pork for their fat lobbyist buddies.

Given that we now serve a government which is more closely tuned to policies of punitive sanction rather than policies of constructive assistance, how shall our legislators exploit the fact that obese Medicare recipients spend about $600 a year more on prescription medications than lighter Medicare recipients?
It doesn't take much stretch of the imagination to believe that, soon, people who are lugging a little extra weight around shall be publicly demonized in much the same way that smokers have been.

After all, if a person is supposedly eating more than their needed share, some uptight civil servant shall undoubtedly assert that the heftier people among us are squandering the earth's limited resources. Please take that eclair outside to eat it.

So don't be surprised when health care reform comes choked full of calorie counts, ingredient disclosure requirements, physical activity thresholds and a host of other social directives, all backed by data which shall no doubt be gleaned from those handy insurance actuary tables. Who knows, perhaps your actual weight relative to your ideal weight, shall soon figure into your credit score.

Taxpayers already directly pay about half of the American obesity bill through Medicaid and Medicare. That amount, not including lost productivity, totaled $147 billion for 2008. Health care reform shall assure us that in the future, each of us will pay our fair share of the up and coming "fat taxes."

I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts it will.

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