As the race to determine the next President of the United States begins to pick up steam and public attention, the issue of health reform is also gaining traction. But on top of figuring out how best to revise our health coverage system, many are concerned with how to improve our actual health. A recent 2007 conference convened a host of Democratic and Republican presidential candidate advisors to discuss what the next president needs to do about obesity.
Why obesity? In the past 4 decades, the number of obese Americans has almost doubled. But the real issue may be that as health care costs continue to rise, experts are looking for someone to blame. The obese are an easy target because not only can you recognize them immediately, their weight brings with it a whole host of health problems that some say are overloading the system and boosting the costs of health care for all.
Whether health problems are caused by obesity directly or indirectly is becoming a matter of growing dispute.
- Decreasing death and illness rates among increasingly obese heart patients challenges the notion that at least some obese people are unhealthier as a direct result – the “obesity paradox.”
- Documented bias among doctors against obese people leading to misdiagnosis and insufficient preventive care would show that obesity can lead to inadequate treatment.
Whether all obesity is the same, avoidable and treatable has also yet to be determined. But it is clearly no longer ignorable. Perhaps this news is most welcome to the obese themselves; maybe now they’re closer to getting the care they deserve.