Please keep an open mind.
An anecdotal point of view…
The secondary effects of obesity, such as Adult-Onset Diabetes, Coronary Artery Disease, etc., etc…are very, very costly conditions to us as taxpayers. These costs far outweigh the cost of primary prevention- being proactive and treating obesity early, before the onset of the secondary diseases. The bottom line is that we as taxpayers would eventually save money if we as a society address and treat obesity early.
I know at face value, this seems unfair to those of us who bust our butts everyday at work only to give a large portion of our blood, sweat and tears to the government and it’s programs. But remember to please keep an open mind. Treating obesity as a disease in the long-term will actually financially benefit our society, but it will take time. We must keep in mind the big picture.
Think about the cost of ONE SINGLE Heart Attack. The costs of an ER visit, IV, EKG, Lab work, Radiologic studies, Doctor services, Nurse Services, inpatient stays, cardiac catheterization/thrombolytics/or other COSTLY intervention, repeat diagnostics, home care, medications, lifestyle counseling, etc., etc… Upwards into the 5-6 figures in cost. One obese person, once he or she becomes ill with a secondary illness, has multiple crises that present to our nations ER’s and hospitals. And usually each morbidity is accompanied with multiple comorbidities which need costly medical attention. Now think about how much money we would have saved if we prevented that heart attack by educating, supporting and monitoring the progress of this same person when he or she was a fat pre-teenager or younger adult.
Now think about the cost of a primary-care-physician montoring and intervening with a child or young adult who is or is becoming obese. For example, a pediatrician caring for an obese 8-year-old…there are plenty of obese children in the U.S. today. Because the pediatrician has the label “disease” for obesity, it will far more impact this child’s parents and they may be much more willing to change their own lifestyles and the child’s lifestyles for the sake of their child. In this way the label disease can be theraputically efficacious for health care providers in encouraging lifestyle changes in patients and their families. And because the child grows up with better habits, these habits are more likely lifelong. Now there is one less person with the potential for obesity and its secondary costly diseases. Also, mom and dad and any siblings also are more aware and are more likely to adopt better habits. Hence, you have an entire family with less chances to become obese and suffer the costly secondary conditions. We all win because this will decrease our country’s financial burden secondary to disease. Think of the potential cost savings!
We also have to consider other factors, such as cultural, socioeconomic, educational, etc. For example, in some cultures they use lard in their cooking or it is rude NOT to overeat. In many cases, education and early intervention would be very beneficial.
The label “disease” for obesity will potentially impact many areas of society, most especially the mindset of our government and its decision makers. Think about the possibility of the government sponsoring programs about the disease obesity in schools and it’s impact. Think about the possibility of the government, instead of giving free cheese, butter, white carb products to low income families…instead distributing brown rice, fiber cereal and the like, along with educational materials to low-income families as it would be more politically correct. Finally think about the exciting possibility of our society working toward the common goal to wipe out obesity. We can do it!
Now that healthcare is able to call obesity a disease, society may pay better attention to the seriousness of obesity and it’s impacts on all of society.