The fatosphere is always talking about how the ‘costs of obesity’ are inflated for shock value and to influence public policy and spending – and at last we have a leading actuary who has confirmed that the costs of Australia have been vastly over-estimated. Instead of $58 billion, he states the actual costs are only $8.8 billion – but I guess that just doesn’t have the same ZING!
A leading actuary has lampooned health lobby figures on the costs of smoking and obesity as being extravagantly inflated and based on suspect methodology.
“The numbers are all over the place,” writes Geoff Dunsford in the September edition of Actuary Australia. And they are “big numbers” – the implication being that they are too big.
The sheer size of the numbers, argues the Sydney actuary, perverts government policy. It can lead to poor spending decisions. The credibility of the numbers from the health lobby is therefore critical to government policy.
The press and the public have been led to believe that the costs to the system are higher than they really are so the government can “justify use of taxpayers’ money on measures to reduce its prevalence and prevention”.
Access Economics estimated the cost of obesity to Australia at $58.2 billion. And sure enough, this enormous headline number promptly bobbed in the press.
On Dunsford’s analysis, however, the figures are flawed, skewed by the “non-financial” estimates to make obesity seem a lot more costly to the taxpayer than it really is.
The costs break down as $3.9 billion for the health care system, $4.4 billion in “other” costs relating to lost work days, taxes forgone and other productivity losses.
More detailcan be found in the article (Be warned: the comments are full of fat-hate.)