A week ago we had the displeasure of reminding America that in 8 years three quarters of the population will be obese. We said that "many forget that a much more serious long term issue for the US (assuming anyone cares what happens in the long run) is a far more ominous secular shift in US population - namely the fact that everyone is getting fatter fast, aka America's "obesity epidemic." And according to a just released analysis by BNY ConvergEx' Nicholas Colas, things are about to get much worse, because as the OECD predicts, by 2020 75% of US the population will be obese. What this implies for the tens of trillions in underfunded healthcare "benefits" in the future is all too clear." Subsequently, The Atlantic decided to do a follow up on what it titled "The True Cost Of Unwalkable Streets" in which author Kain Benfield says: "Perhaps the single most alarming public health trend in the United States today is the dramatic rise in the number of people who are overweight and obese, bringing serious risks of heart disease, diabetes and other consequences leading to life impairment and premature death. This is bad enough as it is, but I contend that it is particularly unfortunate that we do not sufficiently recognize the extent to which these trends are caused by environmental factors, particularly the shape of our built environment."
Alas, resorting to the traditional American pastime of assigning meaningless blame when faced with a probem of epic proportions, instead of attempting to proactively resolve it, is about as expected as that of the four people around you, three will be, quite soon, morbidly fat. Because no matter who, why, when or where the obesity epidemic started, it won't end until the US welfare state is, pardon the pun, sucked dry (see "Welfare - the Great Delusion"). And if ordinary American citizens are shocked by how little Wall Streeters and politicians have changed their behvaiour, they would be speechless if only they looked in the mirror.
So while we don't have quite the suitable reflective device, here is a chart that should do the trick, coming from the same Atlantic piece. If this doesn't get one to rush out and scarf down the local (within 10 kcal or under walking distance) $0.99 McSomthing meal, nothing will.
Lastly, while the partisan bickering over whether Jeff Sessions is right or not in his estimate of a $17 trillion addition of Obamacare to future unfunded liabilities, goes on we wonder... Seriously? Because supposedly while $82 trillion in future unfunded liabilities is perfectly ok, $99 trillion is obviously a partisan hack to derail the great American plot to eat itself to death? Or something.
Instead of encouraging and enabling Americans to believe that any and every health-related issue they develop (of which the bulk originate from simply eating far too much, such as scarfing down on sugar, sugar and more sugar - which just happens to be the topic of tonight's 60 minutes), will be dealt with on someone else's dime, we have another suggestion: offer every American $100 for every pound they lose until they get to just below their ideal weight, and offer them a further $1000 each year to stay below that weight. Total cost: a tiny fraction of whatever Obamacare would cost, and the future benefits to one's credit card, to social healthcare outflows, and to society in general, would be unmeasurable.
And for those who missed it, here is 60 minutes on whether sugar is toxic (full transcript here).