Weigh more, pay more — it's only fair

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The American Society of Actuaries estimates that in the U.S. and Canada, overweight and obese people account for $127 billion in additional health care expenditures. That adds hundreds of dollars to annual health care costs for taxpayers, whether they’re on company plans or pay for private insurance. Singer says that these facts are sufficient to support public policies that ban oversized portions and tax high-fat snacks and sugary drinks. He says that the money raised from the tax could go toward offsetting the disproportionate health care costs that obese people impose on others. Obesity is now considered second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of death.

Need more reasons to charge obese people more for insurance and airplane seats? There are 7 billion people on Earth. That is a big number, but when it grows in mass, the health of the planet is at risk.

Among the discordant notes: We have a mayor in New York City who is trying to discourage consumption of trans fats and excessively huge, sugary drinks. Despite the evidence of increasing obesity, he is widely ridiculed for his efforts. We have vending machines and stores and ice cream franchises that pump out the fat, plumping up the population. And, we have children who are getting Type 2 diabetes at younger and younger ages.

In the midst of our health care struggles, I find it unconscionable that people eat themselves into gross obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Parents who feed young kids sugared cereals, high-fat snacks and Big Macs are guilty of abuse. You see parents who say how much they love their kids feeding them Cheetos and Cheez Doodles and Coke. It’s no mystery that Type 2 diabetes is epidemic among young people. This is cause and effect. Fat kids get fat from eating too much of the wrong foods. Fat kids get diabetes, and they go on to become fat adults who have heart disease and high blood pressure.

With so much that can go wrong healthwise, for no reason aside from bad luck or bad genes, don’t we have a responsibility to keep ourselves and our children as healthy as we can?
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