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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Obesity- an Elective Disability?

We're a compassionate people and want to help those in need, especially those with disabilities. But what about a nation becoming disabled by choice? No one wants the effects of disability, but when the disability is a consequence of lifestyle choices, should the government pay in Medicare and Medicaid? Should insurance policies payout to cover the expenses, raising the cost to all covered? And how should elective obesity be addressed in today's health-care reform debates? According to the CDC, today's annual price tag for obesity is $147 Billion. The cost to employers for employee obesity is $40 Billion annually according to the Conference Board.

When it comes to obesity, we know more than 9 times out of 10, it is a result of lifestyle choices. We also know that a third of cancer is obesity-related, more than 90% of diabetes, and then of course there's heart disease, stroke, dementia, gallbladder disease, gout, kidney stones, infertility--the list goes on.

Yesterday a youngish, maybe 40?, couple was leaving the Cracker Barrel at Pennsylvania exit 29 on Highway 78. They were both obese and having trouble walking--he with a leg brace--she with a cane. They managed to get themselves into their truck, and then backed out of their handicap parking space.

Maybe their disability was not caused by obesity, only exacerbated by it..?

With the majority of Americans overweight or obese, imagine the levels of elective disability we'll need to accommodate in the not so distant future...

Tara Parker Pope of The New York Times Well blog relays a harrowing story of trying to escape the Wall Street Journal offices during the 9/11 attacks. She and all those behind her were stranded on the 9th floor in the stairwell, stuck behind an obese woman in need of many good Samaritans to help her. Thankfully, they did make it out of the building.

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