January 21, 2004

Here Comes the Comedown

Well, it’s official. Us fat people can now join the ranks of intravenous drug users, smokers, and other ne’er-do-wells in one critical way - we’ve been identified as a ‘significant cost to the taxpayer.’ CNN tells us (under the headline ‘CDC: Medical Cost of Obesity $75 billion’) that a report due to be published from that organization will explain how us overweight types cost $75 billion per year in health expenses.


Great.


While I understand there are legitimate epidemiological reasons for pursuing such data, in the hands of the news organizations, it simply provides more grist for the relentless ‘CONFORM’ mill. Now, in addition to worrying about the problems my overweight condition causes me, I must now contend with the stigma of wastrel being applied via news service headlines.


One point - if 64% of the adults in the US are overweight, as the study claims, how much ‘more than average’ do overweight people cost the medical health system? How can that ‘average’ be controlled to not account for them? Sure, there are clean statistical methods of doing so - but I feel like I’ve been lumped into the drug user and smoker categories just by this damn headline. While you can argue whether or not food is an addiction problem, it differs from smoking and other drug use in one significant way - namely, we need to eat to survive. The problem of obesity has many roots, but at base, you can’t say that it derives from purely destructive behavior (and before you get on my case for ‘deriding’ smokers and drug users, I will say out front that I enjoy a cigar from time to time).


This, by itself, isn’t a big deal. But there’s this awful trend towards blame-fixing for societal shortfalls - and it’s that form of obsessive fix-the-cost-on-the-individual’s-fault behavior that will, in the end, bring down any system based on collective action, such as ours is. Posted by jbz at January 21, 2004 7:58 PM

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