Wednesday, February 06, 2008

You Can't Blame the Obese and the Smokers For Everything

With all this talk of banning the corpulently gifted from eating in public; flying on airplanes; riding on amusements; boating in Disney, etc. and banning the smokers from existing at all, we should keep in mind that both groups keep cost down. We cannot blame our rounder or our oxygen challenged citizens for increasing health care expenditures nor can we blame them for the senior citizen population exploding beyond our capability to take care of them. Nope, we can blame our vain, fitness-obsessed, self-disciplined, population who want to live forever.

It is true, until the age of 56-years old, annual health expenditure is highest for obese people. At older ages, smokers incurred higher costs. However, because of lower life expectancy, lifetime health expenditure was highest among healthy-living people and lowest for smokers. The "More-to-Love" category held an intermediate position.

Although obesity prevention leads to a decrease in costs of obesity-related diseases, this decrease is offset by cost increases due to diseases unrelated to obesity in the people who are in constant search for the fountain of youth. Obesity prevention and eliminating those who like to inhale may be an important to improving the quality of live, but it is not a cure for increasing health expenditures.

Here's another interesting study about climate change, sex ratio and longevity.


The theory that natural selection has conserved mechanisms by which women subjected to environmental stressors abort frail male fetuses implies that climate change may affect sex ratio at birth and male longevity. Using time series methods, we find that cold ambient temperatures during gestation predict lower secondary sex ratios and longer life span of males in annual birth cohorts composed of Danes, Finns, Norwegians, and Swedes born between 1878 (earliest year with complete life tables) and 1914 (last birth cohort for which male life span can be estimated). We conclude that ambient temperature affects the characteristics of human populations by influencing who survives gestation, a heretofore unrecognized effect of climate on humanity.

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