The Cost of Obesity

The OECD has put out its first report on trends in obesity. The prognosis isn’t good, particularly for the US, particularly for poorer women. Among the highlights:

  • One in 2 people is now overweight or obese in almost half of OECD countries. Rates are projected to increase further and in some countries 2 out of 3 people will be obese within ten years.
  • An obese person incurs 25% higher health expenditures than a person of normal weight in any given year. Obesity is responsible for 1-3% of total health expenditures in most OECD countries (5-10% in the United States).
  • A severely obese person is likely to die 8-10 years earlier than a person of normal weight.
  • Poorly educated women are 2 to 3 times more likely to be overweight than those with high levels of education, but almost no disparities are found for men.
  • Obese people earn up to 18% less than non-obese people.
  • Children who have at least one obese parent are 3 to 4 times more likely to be obese.
  • A comprehensive prevention strategy would avoid, every year, 155 000 deaths from chronic diseases in Japan, 75 000 in Italy, 70 000 in England, 55 000 in Mexico and 40 000 in Canada.
  • The annual cost of such strategy would be USD 12 per capita in Mexico, USD 19 in Japan and England, USD 22 in Italy and USD 32 in Canada. The cost per life year gained through prevention is less than USD 20 000 in these 5 countries.
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    Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community

    I’m dead excited to read a new anthology of pieces on food sovereignty, edited by my friends Annette Desmarais, Nettie Wiebe, and Hannah Wittman. I’ve got a piece in it (a version of which is here) but the reason to be excited lies not only in the cross-section of individual analyses, but also in the arc that Annette, Nettie and Hannah trace through the book. Food Sovereignty jacket-FINAL (lo-res). More details here.

    Slavery, reloaded

    Pratap Chatterjee of CorpWatch has a horrifying story of modern-day slavery, the largest such case ever brought in the US:

    In what federal officials described as the largest human-trafficking case ever brought by the government, Mordechai Orian, president and chief operating officer of Global Horizons, was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for “engaging in a conspiracy to commit forced labor and document servitude.”

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    FYI: David Ricardo on Adam Smith on Food on Lady Gaga

    Here’s a nugget worth sharing, from David Ricardo’s On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation.

    Adam Smith has justly observed ‘that the desire of food is limited in every man by the narrow capacity of the human stomach, but the desire of the conveniences and ornaments of building, dress, equipage, and household furniture, seems to have no limit or certain boundary.’ Nature then has necessarily limited the amount of capital which can at any one time be profitably engaged in agriculture, but she has placed no limits to the amount of capital that may be employed in procuring ‘the conveniences and ornaments’ of life. To procure these gratifications in the greatest abundance is the object in view, and it is only because foreign trade, or the carrying trade, will accomplish it better, that men engage in them in preference to manufacturing the commodities required, or a substitute for them, at home. If, however, from peculiar circumstances, we were precluded from engaging capital in foreign trade, or in the carrying trade, we should, though with less advantage, employ it at home; and while there is no limit to the desire of ‘conveniences, ornaments of building, dress, equipage, and household furniture,’ there can be no limit to the capital that may be employed in procuring them, except that which bounds our power to maintain the workmen who are to produce them.

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    Less wildfire than humanfire

    More Mozambique follow-up, this time from, um, Russia. Remember the Russian fires that burned the grain that caused the export embargo that raised the price that sparked the rebellions in Mozambique? There was nothing natural about fires either. Boris Kagarlitsky has more here.

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