While arguing for a soda tax, Leonhardt digs up a study:
Mr. Goldman and his U.S.C. colleagues have made an estimate that takes into account both higher short-term spending and reduced longevity (including the fact that the government does not have to pay for as many years of Social Security when someone dies prematurely). In their work, they assume that obesity returns to its 1978 level. If that happened, the federal government would save about $17 billion a year. That’s equal to about 3 percent of Medicare’s and Medicaid’s current budget.