Read a very thought-provoking piece on FuturePundit citing a study that predicts a decline in the average lifespan on Americans due to the obesity epidemic. From a National Institutes of Health release on the study:
"Over the next few decades, life expectancy for the average American could decline by as much as 5 years unless aggressive efforts are made to slow rising rates of obesity, according to a team of scientists supported in part by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The U.S. could be facing its first sustained drop in life expectancy in the modern era, the researchers say, but this decline is not inevitable if Americans — particularly younger ones — trim their waistlines or if other improvements outweigh the impact of obesity."
I pointed my friend Kevin Coady to this article and he replied that, if these figures hold true, obesity might just save Social Security. As he put it, "Bush's plan: more bloomin' onions!"
That said, FuturePundit does a solid job of looking into the science (as always) and noting that the outcomes of this study are predicated upon an assumption that current trends in obesity continue unabated (not unrealistic) and significant advances are not made in developing other medicines and technology that increase life expectancy (very unrealistic). Nevertheless, now and then, I leave room for hyperbole and marketing if it might inspire someone to put down their Big Gulp.