fredag 8 februari 2008

Fetmadebatten ur ekonomperspektiv

I vanlig ordning hugger Freakonomics-folket intressanta debatter tidigt. Här är en intervju med Eric Finkelstein, en av författarna till The Fattening of America - som nu blivit nyintressant efter den nederländska studie (pdf) som kommit fram till att hälsosamma människor är de mest kostsamma för staten. Jag håller inte med honom om allt, men han har en hel del självklara poänger:

- Over the past three decades, the number of obese Americans has more than doubled. But whether or not we call obesity an “epidemic” largely depends on how the word is defined. If one defines an epidemic as the rapid increase in the occurrence of something, then yes, obesity is an epidemic. Of course, we also have an epidemic of flat panel TVs.

- In The Fattening of America, I make the argument that the government should revisit past policies that may have inadvertently helped promote the rise in obesity rates. I point not only to our agricultural subsidy policies for farmers, but also to zoning laws that discourage pedestrian transportation, subsidies to employers for providing health insurance, and even the existence of the Medicare program. All of these in some way blunt the incentives to invest in prevention, be it for obesity or other conditions.

- There may be good reasons to invest in preventive care, but there is little evidence to date that document any long-term savings associated with obesity prevention efforts. If the government funds these and they do not work, they only serve to raise our taxes even more.

- Among today’s obese population, the prevalence of high cholesterol and high blood pressure are now 21 and 18 percentage points lower, respectively, than they were among obese individuals 30 to 40 years ago. In fact, obese individuals today have better cardiovascular disease risk factor profiles than normal-weight individuals had 30 years ago.

Och en radiointervju med Finkelstein:

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