Whenver I hear a call for a government program calling for a regulatory solution to the 'obesity epidemic,' my inner economist asks "Why? Where is the market failure?" The traditional answer has always been something like this: Obesity leads to health problems that require increased medical attention that many can't afford. So, obesity imposes costs on everyone through increased government spending on health care and increased demands on medical professionals, reducing everyone's access.
But what if people choose to be obese? Research Triangle Institute (RTI) economist Eric Finkelstein tries ot answer that question:
"Obesity is a natural extension of an advancing economy. As you become a First World economy and you get all these labor-saving devices and low-cost, easily accessible foods, people are going to eat more and exercise less," health economist Eric Finkelstein told AFP...
Finkelstein says he wrote "The Fattening of America" to "encourage discussion of what I understand is probably an uncomfortable position for a lot of people."
Even if private industry and government take steps to protect society against the costs of obesity, many Americans "will likely continue to choose a diet and exercise regimen that leads to excess weight," because losing weight requires too many lifestyle sacrifices, his book warns.