Lets talk about something non-political and uncontroversial for a change. Theres one topic that I believe everyone can agree onnamely, the obesity epidemic that has stricken this country. Theres general agreement that being fat is no good for you and being really fat is even worse. (And, for those of you who may be thinking that the expression “fat cats” is generally associated with one of the major political parties, please be assured there is no implication of that anywhere whatsoever in this column.)
So, why is it being called an epidemic? The answer is simple: Obesity is gobbling its way through billions of dollars like some crazy virus. A recent government report says obesity (and things related to it) cost the U.S. some $75 billion last year.
Two-thirds of all adults in this country are either overweight or obese. Nine million children also fall in to these 2 categories.
In 2000, obesity caused some 400,000 deaths, second only to tobacco as a killer in this country.
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It is not politically correct to refer to peoples bigness, but lets face it, nearly everything in America is getting super-sized, not just the people. Have you noticed how big SUVs have gotten? Do we really need to be driving around in the equivalent of small buses, or is it just too darn difficult for many folks to fit in sedans (not to mention coupes) anymore?
There was also a recent report that passengers were complaining about seats in some new subway cars in New York City because they were too tight for comfort.
I also notice that McDonaldsposter child for the dangers of fast foodhas eliminated its largest upgrade (the super-duper size or whatever they called it). Of course, the now largest size of french fries and other menu items still supply enough fat, sodium, calories, etc. to bring down the Colossus of Rhodes. But its all relative.
And this relativity is something the life insurance business is going to have to come to terms with. What happens if, say, something like 80% or 90% of the population starts to look like offspring of the Michelin Man?
Will the preferred and super-preferred categories for life insurance start expanding along with the population? Or will the industry hold its current, stricter ground? Will the quickly diminishing mint-thin minority start demanding super-sized discounts on their life insurance?