Study: Caring for Obese Smokers Is a Bargain Compared to Skinny Health Nuts

By Derek Thompson

The TrueReddit page is a dependable hotbed of quotable numbers and knowledge. Here's a good one from Tuesday night:

You might have heard the claim that smokers and obese people cost society more in medical bills than healthy people. But a Dutch survey from three years back found that the "thin and healthy" ultimately cost 12% more than the obese and 25% more than chronic smokers because they have this stubborn habit of living on, and on, and racking up petty (and not-so-petty) medical bills in the process.

On average, healthy people lived 84 years. Smokers lived about 77 years and obese people lived about 80 years. Smokers and obese people tended to have more heart disease than the healthy people.

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.

The results counter the common perception that preventing obesity will save health systems worldwide millions of dollars.

Remind yourself of the full story in the New York Times.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/04/study-caring-for-obese-smokers-is-a-bargain-compared-to-skinny-health-nuts/236867/