In which we introduce the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to Arithmetic

This thing about obesity, this reason that everything should be taxed and regulated:

According to the latest research, 48% of men and 43% of women in the UK will be obese by 2030, a trend that will significantly increase the prevalence of strokes, heart disease and cancer, and lead to higher costs for the NHS.

Bzzzt! No! Wrong!

In order to find out whether something costs the NHS money or not you have to add up what it does cost the NHS and then compare it with what the absence of that something or other would cost the NHS.

And for both obesity and smoking we get our answer here.

Fat boozing smokers die younger, before they spend a decade in that clammy embrace with Alzheimer\’s.

Now, what you can say is that obesity (smoking, boozing, shagging around, whatever) costs those who do it some part of their lives. On average it certainly does.

But then they are their lives to waste as they wish, aren\’t they?

Thus the way in which the lies are endlessly told, that it costs the rest of us money and thus the rest of us (or our puritans self-appointed on our behalf) have a right, nay a duty, to prevent this choice being made.

10 thoughts on “In which we introduce the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to Arithmetic”

  1. But, but, but…. if they’re dead they’re not paying taxes! Another example of the lengths people will go to in tax avoidance!

  2. Plus of course the juvenile extrapolation of a short term trend way into the future.

    In 2080 everyone will be obese!
    In 2150 everyone will be obese twice!

  3. …and lead to higher costs for the NHS.

    This is IMO the very worst aspect of socialised medicine: it provides an excuse for control freaks to regulate every aspect of our lives in the name of the common good. I’d like to see the NHS utterly demolished for this reason alone.

  4. I’ve always said we should encourage behaviour that shortens life – it saves the rest of us a fortune in pensions, benefits and care homes. Plus we get the extra taxes on things like alcohol, cigarettes etc. All we need is legalised drugs (complete with taxes) and we could have a nice State sponsored advertising campaign – Go on smoke, drink and take drugs! It may not be good for you, but its good for the rest of us.

  5. And yet paper after paper concludes that the overweight and mildly obese outlive the “normal”and underweight. Indeed, even the distinctly obese outlive the underweight.

  6. Actually, there may be a Law there. The less scientifically well understood is any branch of medicine, the more likely is it to be used to bully us.

  7. dearieme seems to be making up facts to suit his or her prejudices.

    Here‘s a large-scale prospective study “In both sexes, mortality was lowest at about 22·5—25 kg/m2”.

    Most of the excess mortality in the underweight was associated with respiratory diseases and lung cancer. It seems much more plausible in these cases that the disease is causing the low weight than the other way round.

  8. PaulB,

    You mention that you found the results from the report you provided to seem more robust (presumably to the report that Tim was referencing). Would you be able and willing to provide a bit more clarification for why you came to this conclusion? Thank you.

  9. Roughly, the method in the Dutch paper Tim cites was to calculate how likely a person in each weight category was to develop each of a list of weight-related diseases, and how likely they were to live to a given age. Costs were then assigned to each weight-related disease, and annual costs for all non-weight-related diseases were added on.

    The weaknesses I see in this method are that it assumes that the cost of treating a disease is independent of the patient’s weight, and that healthcare costs not related to the specific diseases are independent of weight.

    The US paper I cited simplifies things by ignoring specific diseases and just considering annual healthcare costs and mortality for each weight category – these data are available in the USA.

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