Monday, February 27, 2006


Re: Obesity Wars

1. Activity helps fight the diseases and, surprisingly, helps keep excess weight off. Again, exercise for the sake of weight loss is pointless because the you can lose inches while adding weight as fat turns to muscle.

2. There is no way to objectively measure an individual's activity level, so insurers use weight as a proxy. But researchers and policy advocates have since forgotten that it's a proxy and focus entirely on weight.

3. Being heavy is not a health risk. It can carry benefits. Being underweight, which is the way some people make sure they are not 'too fat' is a health risk.

4. Health insurers now cover weight-loss surgery and other services aimed at those who are deemed too heavy but do not charge higher premiums for folks with higher body mass index scores. For activity, they have prizes for people who track their daily half hour of exercise.

5. As Jenna mentioned in her comment, as long as there is no cost for "bad" behavior, there is no incentive to change behavior, regardless what kind of re-education program veterans or others endure.

Excellent points, Joe.

Both government and private insurers seem to be focusing on the wrong point. They're tackling weight, not actual health problems.

It will be interesting to see if the private insurance market actually changes its ways. I'd love to see the private market
actually test Body Mass Index to determine premiums - it would make sense to do so, since, as you mentioned, being underweight could be measured as well as being truly overweight.
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