Obesity cases are on the rise in the United States of America. One is said to be obese when their Body Mass Index (BMI) is thirty and above. Obesity is a current phenomenon more recent than smoking and drinking. This is a health issue whose solution has a strong correlation with the state economic policy. The danger with obese citizens is the increase in obesity-related disorders such as diabetes and heart diseases.
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Health impacts of obesity have very diverse effects. It is compared to other risk factors whose effects are similar to an individual’s age from thirty to fifty years (Lehnert et al. 105). The effects of obesity are worse than the effects of smoking and drinking. It is suggested that reasons for having a high body mass index are the increase in fast food restaurants.
Obesity is a public health and public finance concern. One hundred and twelve thousand obese individuals are estimated to spend one hundred and ninety billion dollars annually on their medical care. This is an alarming amount of money spent that can otherwise be used to perform other tasks in the economy.
The alarming trend prompts the question of whether the obese individuals’ trend of reaction to incentives on food warrants being an economic phenomenon. Advancement in technology is a major factor that creates an environment of cheap and readily available food, as well as little physical activity (Lehnert et al. 108). Increase in weight is thus modeled because of decisions touching on food and physical activity.
It is argued that lower food prices, little exercise, and enjoying a sedentary lifestyle are an issue in budget constraints. Another argument is presented in terms of the time cost of food. Besides monetary costs, the time cost of eating also plays a key role in encouraging obesity.
The introduction of additional and improved food preservation method and innovations such as microwaves results in a reduced food preparation time. Health costs of enjoying sedentary life and food are felt in later years; hence, people living in the present may fail to observe critically what they consume.
Economic aspects affecting the fiscal or time prices of caloric intake comprise restaurant, groceries, food, and alcohol price (Lehnert et al. 111). Prices of fruits and vegetables compared to other foods are a contributing factor to the caloric intake of an individual. The convenient location of stores is also critical, and food stamp spending is also contributing factors.
As evidenced by earlier discussion, the higher prices of fruits and vegetables result in more consumption of cheaper unhealthy foods. Consequently, if unhealthy foods are taxed and substituted with healthy alternatives, this can provide an efficient means of combating obesity and its related diseases (Lehnert et al. 113).
However, there is a downside to price regulation. They are increasing the prices of certain food results in a significant increase in the welfare cost of other individuals unaffected by obesity. To some extent, parents are more likely to influence their children’s choices of food more than the government can.
The cost of incurred in the treatment of an obese individual is slightly higher compared to the cost met in treating their lean counterparts. This, therefore, influences policy a lot in terms of the insurance industry in the state and the amount of money the state puts aside for healthcare. Therefore, there is a direct link between obesity and economic policy.
Lehnert, Thomas, Diana Sonntag, Alexander Konopka, Steffi Riedel-Keller and Konig Hans Helmut. “Economic Costs of Overweight and Obesity.” Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 27.2 (2013): 105-115. Print.