Imagine you visited a country where 99% of the people smoked. Most people started smoking in their early teen years and quite a few started smoking before that. There was smoking everywhere—restaurants, offices, parks, homes. People smoked constantly. The average was around 3 packs a day. Call this imaginary country “Smokeland.”
Would it surprise you to learn that lots of people would get lung cancer in Smokeland? Would it surprise you to learn that health care costs are crazy high and people are arguing over whether a government-run health care system is the way to go?
What would you say if you stepped into the conversation? Would you say something like, “You people need to stop thinking about who will pay for health care and think about how to get healthy. Your smoking is killing you. Quit smoking and watch the heal care costs evaporate.”
Would it surprise you to learn that we spend more on health care costs for the obese when compared to smokers? That is right. If an obese person were to lose weight and start smoking his health care costs would go down. Smokers cost the health care system $1,275 more than the average person. Obese people costs $1,850 per year more than average. For those with morbid obesity, the costs were $5,500 more per year.
The obese are 67% more likely to develop a chronic illness when compared with a non-obese person. For normal-weight smokers it is only 25%. For heavy drinkers, the increase is only 12%.
About two thirds of us are overweight. Half of these are technically obese.
We don’t have a health care problem in this nation because of the Democrats or Obama or politics. We have a health care problem because of the choices we as individuals make. We smoke. We overeat. We eat the wrong things. We don’t exercise.