Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Obesity Charge

According to Sharon Epperson, a correspondent for CNBC, being overweigth puts a burden on your wallet as well as your health.  Tipping the scales at well above your ideal weight is not just a personal health problem.  It also has a monetary cost that falls heavily on both the 64% of American adults who are obese and society at large.

Overweight and obese Americans spend $700 more a year on medical bills than those who are not overweight.  That comes to a total of about $93 billion in extra medical expenses a year, says economist Eric Finkelstein of  RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Many of these cost are passed on to all Americans in the form of greater premium and co-payments for health-insurance plans.  Plus, notes Finkelstein, the average taxpayer shells out $250 to $200 a year to finance obesity-related medical expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid recipients. 

Many Americans who are carrying extra pounds are saddled with additional expenses, ranging from higher priced clothing to the second seat an airline may charge them for flying.  To make matters worse, they are often stuck paying these extra bills with a limited income: studies show the obese receive lower wages than the average worker.  So the "fat tax" of increased insurance premiums and medical cost often falls on a slender wallet.


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