Obesity has recently reached pandemic proportions. As Reuters reported earlier this year, “The percentage of Americans who are obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher) has tripled since 1960, to 34 percent, while the incidence of extreme or “morbid” obesity (BMI above 40) has risen sixfold, to 6 percent.” According to the CDC, major health consequences related to obesity include coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure) and more. The estimated toll of obesity on the U.S. economy has been estimated to be $190 billion. What is especially troublesome is child obesity. Although there is a substantial consensus across the board in the media and the political world regarding the magnitude of the problem, the solution to the problem remains elusive.
This post explores alternative approaches and methods for fighting obesity and highlights the role social tools and technology can play in this battle.
For example, “The U.S. health care reform law of 2010 allows employers to charge obese workers 30 percent to 50 percent more for health insurance if they decline to participate in a qualified wellness program,” according to the same Reuters report.
New York’s Mayor Bloomberg wants to ban selling sodas and other sugary drinks in servings larger than 16 ounces, convinced doing so is a “way to fight obesity in a city that spends billions of dollars a year on weight-related health problems.”
The key difference between the two initiatives is that while the Obamacare provision is based on statistically proven correlation between obesity and costly weight-related heath prices, Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative seems to have no such correlation. As such, it may penalize a portion of the public that is not obese and chooses to drink larger cups of soda.