The real reason for the recession: fat people

For some, it's de rigueur to blame Wall Street's irresponsible investing for the economic recession. For others, it's bad lending practices and poor federal regulation of financial institutions. For others still, it's unchecked consumerism — people living too far beyond their means for too long. I, your friendly neighborhood hotness engineer, would like to offer another explanation for the economic crunch: fat people. That's right, fat people are to blame for everything, and I don't just mean keeping drivel like The Biggest Loser on the air all these years.

I purchased a health care plan from BCBS back in 2004. As a strapping young lad in good heath, I was able to get a pretty reasonable rate; I paid just a tad under $100 a month. I recently switched to a hybrid HSA/PPO with Assurant after BCBS skyrocket my premiums to over $200 in just a few short years. And you know whose fault it is? That's right: fat people.

It's tough to find recent numbers, which is just that much more disturbing since we all know that health care has only gotten more expensive and the obesity problem has only gotten worse. But according to the CDC, circa 1998, complications arising from people being overweight or obese accounted for roughly $75 billion in health care costs (in current dollars, that'd be roughly $96 billion). As of 2002, obesity alone (distinct from overweight) accounted for nearly 12% of total health care costs. That may not sound huge, but it's tens of billions of dollars spent treating diabetes, heart disease, GI disorders, cancer... the works. And according to a 2005 study by the RAND corporation, obesity accounts for a 36% increase in inpatient and outpatient costs and a 77% increase in medication costs.

And that's the tip of the iceberg; there are countless other costs associated with obesity. Think about things like fuel costs. According to a study out of the University of Illinois, a whopping 1 billion gallons of fuel consumed each year can be attributed to fat people. Of course, fat people also eat a lot more than everyone else, and that food doesn't get transported for free on the magical bus of deliciousness. I'm sure that if anyone studied the fuel cost of transporting food to feed the portly people of the world, it would be pretty sobering.

And make no mistake about it: fat people are indeed lazy too. Obesity is the #1 cause of lost productivity in the workforce. One study found that nearly 7% of obese employees have some kind of work limitation, while only 3% of healthy employees do. A recent study out of the University of Cincinatti put the annual cost of lost productivity at about $500 per lard ass — and when over 60% of people in this country are overweight or obese, that's a lot of money. And next time you see a story on the news about more companies dropping health care benefits, ponder the fact that fat employees account for 77% greater health care costs for businesses compared to healthy people, and businesses spend around 43% of their entire health care costs covering complications stemming from obesity.

And you know what's even more messed up? According to a recent study from the University of Arizona, we waste literally half of our food here in the U.S. All that food for all those fat people, and we still have billions of tons of leftovers, roughly 82% of which are from Outback Steakhouse. It's shocking that when there are millions of people dying of starvation all over the world, we're eating ourselves into a recession and we still throw half of it away. Maybe if people learned that the decisions they make really actually do affect everyone else, they'd act just a tiny bit more responsibly. Chew on that for a while.


  1. How can we account for the economic crises in countries that don't have obesity problems like China? Maybe they just have too many freakin people. Way more dudes than ladies too.

  2. I think it's safe to say that if they were as fat as we are, things would be a hundred times worse.

  3. While I think that it is a tad hyperbolic to claim that fat people are to blame for the recession, I'm definitely with you on saying that obesity is definitely not acceptable.

    That aside, I find the claim that 1 billion gallons of fuel are used in supporting our nation's obesity to be a really interesting new rallying cry for environmentalists. Where biking is good for the environment not only because it cuts out the car, it cuts out the carbs. (Although, as an intense cyclist, I do consume some 3000+ calories a day when I'm at the peak of my summer tours).

  4. One thing that I didn't get into that's worth discussing is that vegetarians are much less likely to be obese. That's significant because most of our meat and dairy products come from factory farms that are highly destructive to the environment.

  5. Mike, help me end the recession. I could really benefit from losing a few. How about some diet and exercise posts!


  6. You have basically summed up my opinions only you actually did the research to back them up. I had previously based my very biased opinions on the fact that I work in an emergency room and every time I see a pig who ate themselves into the hospital taking up a bed and my time from someone who is in crisis through no fault of their own, I am pissed off to no end.

    Now that I know there have actually been studies on this topic I will be a little more vocal about these opinions.

    Thank you


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