Obesity Costs More than the War on Terror

bookcover of "i can fix america" by dave duleyIn his book I Can Fix America, author and entrepreneur Dave Duley explores the ways individual Americans can take stewardship of the privileges that come with U.S. citizenship. One of the major premises of the book is that Americans need to take responsibility for their personal health, because the government simply cannot afford the costs entailed by our current obesity crisis. “In my analysis, one of the major issues that jeopardizes the finical stability of our country is our rising health care costs,” Duley tells DietsInReview. He concludes that obesity is unpatriotic.

To further his point, Duley compares the costs of obesity to the cost of the War on Terror. “More people have died in the past ten years from obesity than terrorism. More money has been spent to treat the obese than to engage in the War on Terror, on both the Afghan and Iraqi fronts.” The direct costs of the War on Terror amount to $1.3 trillion, while the costs of obesity amount to $1.5 trillion from 2001 to 2024. The tally of deaths makes for an even more dramatic disparity over the same period of time: the war caused the deaths of 6,850 Americans, while obesity is responsible for the deaths of over one million (see Duley’s sources here). Then there are indirect costs associated with obesity, such as lower productivity and increased numbers of sick days.

“This behavior is hurting America. It’s jeopardizing our whole medical infrastructure system. It’s creating this burned for future generations,” Duley says. “How can we justify that to our grandchildren? We’re doing them a disservice by not taking care of ourselves and ratcheting up this debt.”

Duley argues that people who don’t want the government telling people how to eat need to reflect on their own nutritional choices. “Why is the government trying to tell us what to eat? Because unfortunately we’re not doing a good job of eating healthy and taking care of ourselves. If the government knows they’re going to be on the dole to pay for our bad choices, they’re going to try to mitigate that.”

headshot of author dave duleyHe adds people are free to choose to be healthy, and doesn’t feel that the government nor the food industry are responsible for individuals’ health. However, Duley says that individuals who willingly fail to care for their own health are not deserving of health care from their employers through insurance or government-funded services. “If you’re asking me to pay for your bad choices, I’m going to have something to say about that,” explains Duley.

Duley’s first steps to encouraging people to lead healthier lives is by improving his own eating habits, which is admits could be better. After meeting Joe Cross of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Duley decided to do a 10-day juice “reboot.” Now, he’s found the paleo diet to be an easy approach to eating better. “When I make a meal decision, I can ask myself ‘Was this available 10,000 years ago?’ I can make that decision pretty quick,” he says with a laugh.

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