Thursday, March 17, 2005

The fattest generation

The New York times reports on the childhood obesity epidemic. The supersizing of America may save Social Security, but will be devastating for Medicare:

For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents, according to a new report, which contends that the rapid rise in childhood obesity, if left unchecked, could shorten life spans by as much as five years.
The report, to be published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, says the prevalence and severity of obesity is so great, especially in children, that the associated diseases and complications - Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, cancer - are likely to strike people at younger and younger ages.
The report comes at a time when the country is embroiled in a debate over Social Security. While the report's authors say they started their research long before the current debate, they write that "the U.S. population may be inadvertently saving Social Security by becoming more obese" and dying sooner, but that "this 'benefit' will occur at the expense of the economy in the form of lost productivity before citizens reach retirement and large increases in Medicare costs associated with obesity and its complications."

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