Sunday, February 24, 2008

Healthy People Are A Burden On Society

For years of feeling the stigma of being obese or social pariahs because of smoking tobacco a new study has revealed that thin healthy people are more of a burden on society in the long run.

Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment has done a study that says preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it doesn't save money.

It costs more to care for healthy people who live years longer, according to a Dutch study that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars.

"It was a small surprise," said Pieter van Baal, an economist. "But it also makes sense. If you live longer, then you cost the health system more."

In a paper published online in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal, Dutch researchers found that the health costs of thin and healthy people in adulthood are more expensive than those of either fat people or smokers.

The researchers studied three groups of 1,000 people and found that from age 20 to 56, obese people racked up the most expensive health costs.

But because both the smokers and the obese people died sooner than the healthy group, it cost less to treat them in the long run.

On average, healthy people lived 84 years. Smokers lived about 77 years, and obese people lived about 80 years. Smokers and obese people tended to have more heart disease than the healthy people.

Cancer incidence, except for lung cancer, was the same in all three groups. Obese people had the most diabetes, and healthy people had the most strokes.

Ultimately, the thin and healthy group cost the most, about $417,000, from age 20 on.

The cost of care for obese people was $371,000, and for smokers, about $326,000.

The results counter the common perception that preventing obesity will save health systems worldwide millions of dollars.

Patrick Basham, a professor of health politics at Johns Hopkins University said: "This throws a bucket of cold water onto the idea that obesity is going to cost trillions of dollars. He said that government projections about obesity costs are frequently based on guesswork, political agendas, and changing science.

"If we're going to worry about the future of obesity, we should stop worrying about its financial impact," he said.

Obesity experts said that fighting the epidemic is about more than just saving money. I wonder how much you have to eat before you become an obesity expert.

"The benefits of obesity prevention may not be seen immediately in terms of cost savings in tomorrow's budget, but there are long-term gains," said Neville Rigby, spokesman for the International Association for the Study of Obesity.

"These are often immeasurable when it comes to people living longer and healthier lives."

Van Baal described the paper as "a book-keeping exercise," and said that governments should recognize that successful smoking and obesity prevention programs mean that people will have a higher chance of dying of something more expensive later in life.

"Lung cancer is a cheap disease to treat because people don't survive very long," van Baal said. "But if they are old enough to get Alzheimer's one day, they may survive longer and cost more which is most inconsiderate."

"We are not recommending that governments stop trying to prevent obesity," van Baal said. "But they should do it for the right reasons."

Lets not forget the stimulating of the economy by excessive buying of junk food, exercise equipment that will never be used and power scooters. The smokers also pay high taxes all throughout their smoking lives.

Joseph Harrop a life long fat person and chain smoker said: " Why would you want to live longer if you couldn't have a smoke as soon as you woke up or after a mega bargain bucket from KFC?"


Zoe said...

glad to know i won't be a financial burden on society. now pass me a coke and a doughnut.

R. Buckle said...

Not so smug now you skinny people.

frog ponds rock... said...

and just think of all the soft tissue injuries you get when skinny people jab you with their bony elbows...ooops ( no that wasn't directed at you Veronica...) ouch!!!

hehehehe now pass me another calorie laden beer *hic*

cheers kim..

Pillow Princess said...

The bigger the cushion the sweeter the pushin.

frog ponds rock... said...

I have something for you at my place hehehehe
cheers kim

warriorwoman said...

guy goes to the doc in a panic and says, "doc I don't drink, I don't smoke and I don't fool around on my wife, will I live a long life?"

doc says, "why???"

see ya later, I'm goin for a smoke.

Margie said...

Fat and jolly but really full of self loathing or skinny and looking good with bad teeth from puking? Pass the ice cream and I'll think about it.

Believe said...

I MUST be "Cheap to Keep". With smoking and getting lung cancer and drinking and getting cirrohsis,I do feel that with the taxes on cigs and booze,I will have at least afforded my medical bill!