David Stipp thinks that my fat ass is what is driving the increase in healthcare costs.  But he’s wrong – it’s my old ass that’s doing it.

 It is clear that Mr. Stipp doesn’t like fat people – to the point where he doesn’t even see the irony in his own article.  In one paragraph he tells us that more than a third of the US population is “obese”.  In the very next paragraph he tells us that the CDC attributes $147 billion in US medical costs to obesity – and he tells us, that’s 9% of all medical healthcare costs.

 So wait.  We comprise 30%+ of the population, but only 9% of all medical healthcare costs are attributable to our “condition”.  Fuck, yeah.  We must be a pretty healthy bunch.  So much for the ideas that if you’re fat you must be unhealthy and that fat is a disease that must be treated.  

 Mr. Stipp is all in favor of “healthy” (i.e., thin) people living long lives, but he seems to feel keeping the old fatty alive is just a waste of money and resources.  After all, what kind of quality of life could we have?  Never mind that his ideas for living longer include long term dieting and use of diabetes drugs by non-diabetics. 

 Well first of all, if you aren’t meant to be thin, we pretty much know how dieting ends up.  And second of all, I consider the pleasure of eating as part of my quality of life.  I also would not be happy with a life that entails a disordered relationship with food, where I count every calorie and weight each morsel, etc.  No thank you.  Not my idea of a good time – especially not if it’s a life sentence. 

 Again, we all die, sooner or later.  Longevity (much like fatness) appears to be tied more to genetics, environment, and socio-economic status. 

 Mr. Stipp says the proof of what he is saying can be found in a 2003 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. 

 What Mr.Stippfails to say is that a 2010 CDC study ( refutes what he is saying.  The CDC report shows that older men and women have, on average, the same number of hospital admissions and doctor visits regardless of size. 

 In trying to find the study to which Mr. Stipp refers, I went to the NEJM website, and searched through the 2003 issues for the term, “medicare”.  I got dozens and dozens of results – articles, book reviews, editorials, and correspondence.  So then I searched for “medicare”, “obesity”, and “age” and I think I found the study to which Mr. Stipp refers – Health, Life Expectancy, and Health Care Spending Among the Elderly.

Only the Abstract is available for free – but this is the conclusion for the study:

 “The expected cumulative health expenditures for healthier elderly persons, despite their greater longevity, were similar to those for less healthy persons. Health-promotion efforts aimed at persons under 65 years of age may improve the health and longevity of the elderly without increasing health expenditures.”

 Looks to me, live long and healthy or live short and unhealthy – the healthcare costs balance each other out.  Am I missing something here?

 No wonderMr.Stipp did not include the cite for the study, since its conclusion does not prove what he is saying at all.

 And once again, this is why we need to be informed fatties, and not take for granted what we are told by the fat-haters.


  1. Probably another thing that tears HIS fat-hating ass is the fact that, all things being equal, a LOT of fatasses actually outlive a lot of thin people, we also do better with surgeries, healing, etc., &, in the case of terminal illnesses, have longer survival rates. Yes, I am sure that a large part of the problem for him is that we live too long, but, as you say, there is no evidence that, while we live, we have more medical expenditures than thin people do. I personally am nearly 62 & have been to doctors less & had fewer health issues than most people I know who are half my age, this despite the fact that I was born both disabled & poor.

    I just love the way these jackasses reinterpret what they read, embellish, &/or outright lie to make fat people & our health look much worse than the truth actually is. I love when there is a story which says that some studies suggests that being naturally, genetically LEAN is linked to increased rates of heart disease & diabetes STILL asserts that thin is better than fat & that we must watch our weight or diet to get to a ‘healthy weight’. They totally ignore any findings which do not support their prejudices.

    • The great Patricia Lyons calls that (when an article relates a health advantage to fatness and the writer makes an anti-fat comment at the end) “PS we hate you”.

  2. I would think that people, no matter what their size, who eat healthfully, move their bodies in ways that they enjoy, and have access to adequate preventative medical care would live longer, healthier lives and not cost as much as people who don’t have access to any of these things or the ability to do any of these. So it would make sense, to me anyway, to make sure that everyone in the good old US of A has access to healthy food, access to places where they can move in joyful ways, and access to adequate health care. Not only would that be cheaper in the long run, but it would certainly make for a happier, healthier society, not to mention workforce.

  3. “Mr. Stipp is all in favor of “healthy” (i.e., thin) people living long lives, but he seems to feel keeping the old fatty alive is just a waste of money and resources.”

    While he does accept without question that fat leads to poorer quality of life in old age, he actually argues that we should be using longevity drugs on fat people (as well as everyone else) to mitigate this, rather than arguing that fat people are a waste of resources:

    “You might think that anti-aging drugs, like conventional medicines, would only increase these expenses by effectively increasing morbidity faster than mortality. But if obesity essentially accelerates aging, medicines that brake aging are precisely what the doctor should order (along with exercise and eating right)…. [S]uch drugs, if proved safe to take chronically as preventive medicines, would have unprecedented efficacy in ameliorating or warding off obesity-associated diseases, regardless of whether they induce weight loss.”

    Compared to a lot of the rhetoric we hear around the war on obesity, that bit sounds progressive. Although the “regardless of whether they induce weight loss” is a bit odd–it implies that we might expect such drugs to induce weight loss, even if not all of them would. Saying that drugs to make fat people healthier without making them thinner are worthwhile is a step in the right direction, but why would we have any reason to believe that they would induce weight loss? Don’t diabetes drugs usually have the opposite effect? I think that he probably phrased it this way because we’re so often beaten over the head with “thin=healthy” that we don’t [he doesn’t] even pause to figure out whether it makes any sense in this particular case. He subconsciously thinks that if something will make fat people healthier, it may make them thin, even while he’s talking about ways to make people healthier without making them thinner.

    I did also notice that his own math doesn’t add up.

    The proof came out in 2003 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Analyzing Medicare data, federal researchers showed that elderly people in good shape at age 70 — meaning they had no difficulties performing tasks of daily living such as walking and shopping — could expect to live to 84.3, and after 70 they had average, cumulative health care bills totaling $136,000. In contrast, less healthy 70-year-olds with at least one limitation in daily-living activities could expect to live to 81.6 — nearly three years less — yet had cumulative medical bills of about $145,000 during their shorter remaining lives.

    It’s somewhat OT, because he then goes on to say that fatties will increased medical bills without reduced life expectancy. But if you multiply the number of years after age 70 by the medical costs per year, the healthy people in the study cost $1,944,800 from age 70 until death, and the unhealthy people cost $1,690,700. Since most Medicare funding comes from payroll taxes and such rather than premiums from people enrolled, it looks like despite their higher per-year cost, the unhealthy people save us money by dying faster. Maybe he feels the need to argue that longevity saves us money because older people’s lives aren’t seen as worth living by so many people.

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