COMMENTARY | According to ABC News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts up to 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030. That could add up to $550 billion to current health care costs. One of the authors of the report, Eric Finkelstein, said obesity has gone up "tremendously" the past decade. It has been long known that individuals who suffer from obesity are at increased risks for additional health problems like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Now is a critical point for policymakers to readdress universal health care. I contend if all society has to handle the burden of increasing obesity and its health care costs, we might as well accept the idea of universal health care. Nationalizing health care would at least expand the range of options for combating obesity, which is poised to cost nearly as much as national defense. While critics might still bemoan the alleged problems of nationalized health care, the shocking figure of obesity-related costs, many of which are borne by taxpayers, should be an unforgettable wake-up call.
If I, a healthy young man who eats right and exercises daily, pay increased taxes to support health care of the morbidly obese, I would prefer laws be changed so the government can create working, potent incentives for healthy living. Maybe once we realize we're paying for health care as a nation we will make the effort to improve our lifestyles and nutrition choices. As long as we remain divided by privatized health care we lack incentive to think communally and can ignore the obesity epidemic until it is too late.
With healthier people we can save money on health care costs down the road, have a much greater percentage of eligible applicants for military, police and first responder jobs, and will have the psychological benefits of positive self-image, perhaps scaling back another nationwide health epidemic: Depression.