The International Political Economy of Obesity

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 6/09/2012 03:26:00 PM
To be honest, IPE is usually not quite on the leading edge of social science in many respects. Prior to the breakout of the subprime crisis, there were next to no scholars focusing on real estate for instance save for a few exceptions like Herman Schwartz and Len Seabrooke. It thus bothers me that a quick Google search for "the international political economy of obesity" yielded my blog posts in the top three spots. Aargh.

Make no mistake, however: I believe that this subject matter will be a topic of, ah, w-i-d-e-r interest as the globalization of American-style obesity gathers pace and its fiscal implications become more evident. It's the worst of both worlds as far as industrialized countries are concerned. Not only will many folks live longer but they will also require more (costly) health care given the myriad of obesity-related illnesses. It's just another thing USA#1 cheerleaders routinely overlook: the strain placed on the public purse by the gut-busting expansion of American waistlines that's being copied the world over.

Anyway, Yahoo! News has an interesting feature on how ultrafat Americans--over a third of them are now not just overweight but downright obese [oink, oink]--bolster add more crippling poundage to already soft-in-the-middle budget deficits. Based on the percentage of health care costs thought to be associated with obesity in 2003, they predict that by 2018 the godforsaken US federal budget will include a hefty $343 billion forking out for these rotund Americans AKA "the nearly average Joe." That's not all health care spending but just that related to obesity. Throw in things alike other health care, pensions, unemployment benefits (I am not betting the US will have recovered a decade after the subprime crisis and it's indicative how bad things are that few will disagree) and it's too scary to contemplate.

It will become literally the survival of the fittest among industrialized economies as they struggle to keep in passable fiscal shape. Who will succeed in slimming down health care costs by doing the same to the general population? I don't know about you, but I doubt whether Americans will succeed at all given their track record in which things just get progressively worse, with no significant improvements in sight.