New research shows medical spending averages $1,400 more a year for an obese person than for someone who's normal weight.More in the Wall Street Journal.
The higher expense reflects the costs of treating diabetes, heart disease and other ailments far more common for the overweight.
"Unless you address obesity, you're never going to address rising health-care costs."
It just so happens that last night I read the chapter on "Health and the Bicycle" in Jeff Mape's Pedaling Revolution. Mapes reminds us that in 1991, only four states had obesity rates higher than 15%, while in 2007 only one state -- Colorado -- had a rate under 20%. In 1996, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report lamenting that our modern, car dependent society hinders any attempts to increase physical activity. Psychologists studying the issue learned that the only way to increase physical activity is to make it a part of an active lifestyle.
That's when the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is dedicated to improving public health, got into promoting bicycling in a big way, spending $80 million in the 90s on advocacy, research and grants to promote active transportation. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, for example, provided the early funding for the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Community Program.
Mapes mentions Prescription for a Healthy Nation by physicians Tom Farley and Deborah Cohen, who argue that American's fixation with the cost of our health care system obscures the real problem: that 'health care' rarely does little to provide real health. 40% of early deaths can be attributed to controllable factors such as smoking, alcohol use, diet, physical activity and vehicle crashes.
Cohen and Farley argue that we should stigmatize sedentary behavior in the same way anti-smoking campaigners stigmatized smoking in the 80s. "We have to put walking and cycling back into our daily lives and temper our addiction to cars," they write. They argue for development that encourages active transportation over car use.
Props to my anonymous tipster.