Further Information

Lifetime medical costs of obesity: prevention no cure for increasing health expenditure | Pieter H. M. van Baal, Johan J. Polder, G. Ardine de Wit, Rudolf T. Hoogenveen, Talitha L. Feenstra, Hendriek C. Boshuizen, Peter M. Engelfriet, Werner B. F. Brouwer
Article Published: 2008

Type: Economic
Funding Source: The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports
Published By: Andrew Prentice, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom

Further Information

One of the “battle horses” of the “public health” propaganda is that smokers and obese people “cost” to society because of “lifestyle-related diseases”. The clear implication is that, were the targets to behave “properly” – that is, as prescribed by “public health” – those diseases would not occur, or they would occur far less.

That is false – if for no other reason, because it is unproven; in fact, people with the “correct” lifestyles are hit by those diseases too. Furthermore the cost notion in itself is false. This study from Holland demonstrates that, along with all the other studies in this section. It is the non-smokers who – by far – cost society more, and smokers are forced to pay for them with their taxes.

This study is an economic study as the main author, Pieter van Baal, is an economist. His study tears apart the "evidence" that smokers are more expensive for society in health care costs compared to non-smokers. That "evidence" is the main pretext politicians use to enact smoking bans, in the questionable belief that prohibition and social “denormalization” induces abstinence – while there is no account for the war on drugs and its abysmal results.

If common statistical interpretations are to be believed (most we would criticize) then smokers cost less to society. If smokers have, for instance, a seven year shorter life expectancy, then they save society seven very expensive years of old age in hospitals and in other care costs.

Obese people too cost less than “healthy” people; smokers are the control group — and smokers are the less expensive of all 3 groups.

Again, it is clear that the last seven years of extra life expectancy for the non-smokers demands a lot of very expensive health care costs. Or, to put it in another manner, smokers are members of the work force for a longer time in proportion. Smokers are working 58% of their life years while non-smokers, who live seven years longer, work only 46% of the years they live. At the same time, the study shows, the diseases old people get in their 80's and 90's are extremely expensive.

What's more, this study does not even mention the additional cost of pensions, by which extended life causes a further burden — to the point that the pension systems, in most countries, are already strained to the limit.

Click here for a simplified synopsis of the study.

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