Boilermaker Blog

Costs of a Super-sized America


We certainly are aware of the epidemic of obesity in the US; it is literally right in front of us on the streets. In this case more is most certainly not better.
‘The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.’ The Center for Disease Control
The U.S. Military has identified obesity as perhaps our greatest national security risk with 3 out of 10 17 to 24 year olds simply too heavy to pass the physical fitness test.
Yet beyond the obvious medical and national costs are a number of little known realities that society is dealing with.
Ambulance stretchers and in some cases the ambulances themselves have become large to deal with heavier folks. In Boston an ambulance was retrofitted with a hydraulic lift (at a cost of $12,000) to deal with patients weighing up to 850 pounds!
Downstream hospitals have had to refit their beds, bathrooms and waiting room chairs to deal with this new reality.
Then there are the test crash dummies; no not the band, those lovable guys we enjoy propelling at high rates of speed into walls.
It seems Vince and Larry (the dummies names in TV ads) may have packed on a few pounds.
The original dummies, dating back to the 80’s weighed in at 170 pounds. The company Humanetics, a manufacturer of test crash dummies has developed a new human stand-in weighing in at over 270 pounds.
Larger passengers may exert different challenges to seat belt safety.
At this point the government has not mandated any changes to dummy guidelines.
To be fair, the car manufacturers are looking at getting away from the ‘one size fits all’ test dummy performing more research on specific subsets such as teenage drivers.
Will gas mileage be the next topic under obesity scrutiny?

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