Fat Smokers = Lower Health Costs

So that's the reason American Government policy started under the very recently deceased Earl Butz promotes a corn-based diet that Michael Pollan says is killing us; it keeps health care costs down. If either Clinton or Obama manage to provide national health care, they may even have to lift smoking bans and start taxing sports equipment and jogging shoes instead of cigarettes, and show Presidents lighting up again.

A new Dutch study has found that preventing obesity and smoking may save lives but it doesn't save money.

"It was a small surprise," said Pieter van Baal, an economist at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, who led the study. "But it also makes sense. If you live longer, then you cost the health system more."

Fat smokers die earlier and are less of a burden on the heath system, whereas thin fit non-smokers hang around too long, an average of 84 years instead of 77 for smokers. According to the study, cancer incidence, except for lung cancer, was the same in all three groups. Obese people had the most diabetes, and healthy people had the most strokes. Ultimately, the thin and healthy group cost the most, about $417,000, from age 20 on. The cost of care for obese people was $371,000, and for smokers, about $326,000.

Van Baal concluded "Lung cancer is a cheap disease to treat because people don't survive very long, But if they are old enough to get Alzheimer's one day, they may survive longer and cost more." ::International Herald Tribune

Tags: Diet

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