The cost of obesity (and fixing it)
I don’t usually take estimates of the cost of bad diets and obesity too seriously because they are necessarily based on multiple assumptions, none of them verifiable. But I do like to collect them. Here are two papers from the American Journal of Health Promotion estimating such costs. One estimates the health benefits and savings in medical costs from diets reduced in saturated fat, sodium, and calories (a savings of $60-120 billion), and the other estimates cost savings and productivity increases for reduction in calories and sodium ($109-256 billion). Whatever the real savings are, they are likely to be enormous. And that’s just money. It’s harder to put a value on quality of life. Maybe that’s all we need to know at this point.
Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy has invented a Revenue Calculator for Soft Drink Taxes for estimating the amounts of money states and cities could raise from taxes on soft drinks. You type in the state or city, estimate the size of the tax, decide what kinds of drinks it’s for, and push the button. Bingo. California could raise about $1.8 billion a year from a 1 cent tax.
And the Department of Health and Human Service has hooked up with the Advertising Council for a new kids’ activity campaign on the Internet, this one using Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things tied in to a movie coming out in October. I wasn’t so happy about the last such campaign, which featured Shrek and is still up on the site. Shrek also advertises junk foods. Maybe this one will work better?