Who's Ready for a Fat Tax?
From a Wall Street Journal article by Betsy McKay come these tantalizing facts (emphasis added):
The medical costs of treating obesity-related diseases may have soared as high as $147 billion in 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday, as its new director set a fresh tone in favor of more aggressively attacking obesity.
The cost of treating obesity doubled over a decade, signaling the rising prevalence of excess weight and the toll it is taking on the health-care system. The medical costs of obesity were estimated to be $74 billion in 1998, according to a study by federal government researchers and RTI International, a nonprofit research institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
The findings were released at a conference on obesity held by the CDC in Washington, D.C. The prevalence of obesity rose 37 percent between 1998 and 2006, and medical costs climbed to about 9.1 percent of all U.S. medical costs, the researchers said.
Obese people spent 42 percent more than people of normal weight on medical costs in 2006, a difference of $1,429, the study found. Prescription drugs accounted for much of the increase.
We’ve blogged here variously in the past about the many possible contributing factors that have made it so much easier to get obese these days. That said, it is a self-inflicted condition any way you look at it.
When you read that 9.1 percent of all health-care costs are the result of eating and drinking too much, doesn’t it make you wonder if we should be more seriously talking about a fat tax rather than simply a fat-cat tax? The first dollars in fact could come from the six senators who are trying to reform health care:
On the agenda is the revamping of the American health care system, possibly the most complex legislation in modern history. But on the table, in a conference room where the bill is being hashed out by six senators, the snacks are anything but healthy.
Last week, there were chippers — chocolate-covered potato chips — described on a sign as “North Dakota Diet Food.” More often, there are Doritos, pretzels, Oreo cookies, and beef jerky: fuel to get through hours of talks on topics like the actuarial values of private insurance plans or the cost-sharing provisions of Medicare.