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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Health at Every Size

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 11:32 AM

From a puff piece on the fat acceptance movement in the NYT last week:

Heavier Americans are pushing back now with newfound vigor in the policy debate, lobbying legislators and trying to move public opinion to recognize their point of view: that thin does not necessarily equal fit, and that people can be healthy at any size.... “I get so angry when I feel people pushing a weight-loss agenda,” said Linda Bacon, a nutrition professor at City College of San Francisco and author of “Health at Every Size,” a book published last year whose title has become the rallying cry of the fat pride community. “What we’re doing in public health care policy is harmful. We give a direct and clear message that there’s something wrong with being fat.”

And in today's NYT:

While Congress searches for ways to slow the growth of health care spending, a new study suggests that its efforts may be overwhelmed by the surging prevalence of obesity. The report, to be issued Tuesday, projects that if current trends continue 103 million American adults will be considered obese by 2018. That would be 43 percent of adults, compared to 31 percent in 2008, according to the research by Kenneth E. Thorpe of Emory University, an authority on the cost of treating chronic disease.

Mr. Thorpe concluded that the prevalence of obesity is growing faster than that of any other public health condition in the country’s history. Health care costs related to obesity—which is associated with conditions like hypertension and diabetes—would total $344 billion in 2018, or more than one in five dollars spent on health care, if the trends continue. If the obesity rate were held to its current level, the country would save nearly $200 billion a year by 2018, according to the study.

Mr. Thorpe said in an interview that the health care bills in Congress limit their attack on obesity to a few community-centered pilot programs with insufficient funding. Congress has steered clear of measures that might have a more direct impact, like taxing sugary sodas and fat-laden snacks.

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