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Australia Considering Tax-Funded Obesity Surgery

lap-bandThere have been varying publicly-funded interventions with regards to the fight on obesity. But none are as direct as the one being initiated in Australia.

The government down under is considering funding lap-band surgery to curb rising rates of obesity. You can’t get anymore directly interventionist than that. If implemented, the plan would have tax payers footing the bill for surgery. Lap-band surgery is where surgeons attach a band around the entrance to the stomach so patients feel full after eating a moderate amount of food.

Evidence shows that the surgery could help obese patients lose as much as 60 percent of their body weight. Similar to the U.S. numbers, more than a third of Australia’s 21 million citizens are estimated to be overweight or obese

On the surface, it’s an easy measure to oppose. Why should healthy tax payers foot the bill for other people’s indiscretions, right? While I tend to be in that camp for the most part, it’s not a simple conclusion to come to. Here’s a devil’s advocate argument in favor of the measure:new south wales australia

Whether we like it or not, the developed world has an obesity crisis. We are eating ourselves to death. And while the numbers are alarming, some of the precautions being taken are just as eye-opening.

In the state of New South Wales Australia, emergency services have introduced specially designed “mega-lift” ambulances to accommodate morbidly obese patients. And the country’s undertakers say they are introducing more oversize coffins, while authorities are considering altering toilets and other products to fit the growing population.

Whether or note this is simply a matter of people needing to be less slothful and more concerned about diet and exercise may be beside the point. If you and a bunch of people are in a burning building, you don’t waste time finding out who is to blame for the fire. You do your best to get out.

We’re in this mess, and it’s burdening our health system. While people need to get off their duff and do something about their health, it’s in everyone’s interest to find a way to make the population healthier. If the money spent nets a positive in the public outlay of money, then it’s worth it. Otherwise, people should fend for themselves.

Learn more about Lap-Band Surgery:

(via: Yahoo)

May 11th, 2009

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