Why does it cost so much, and why do those costs continue to go up? It really is very simple. We have found a way to increase life expectancy dramatically during a time when we have done everything else wrong. First of all, our infant mortality rate is one of the worst, if not the worst, of all developed countries. Secondly, while we have reduced the percentage of people who smoke, we actually have more smokers than ever before, because of population increases. In any city where gangs rule the streets, hospitals see cases of gunshot wounds, beatings, and stabbings, to people who have no insurance, and this isn't a once in a while thing, it's routine. And last of all, on my list, is the fact that the fat population has doubled, leading to all sorts of costly treatments. But the bottom line is, that despite all these things, life expectancy has increased by eight to nine years over the last 40 years. With all these things considered, you would think that life expectancy would be decreasing, not increasing, but we have seen increases because medical treatment has gotten much better. We have become very effective at keeping people alive much longer. The problem is that this all comes at a cost, and someone has to pay for it. Let's look at two countries, the United States and Japan. Japan has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world. They also spend less on healthcare than most industrialized countries. In fact, they only spend about 1/3 of what we spend in the US. So what are some of the contributing factors? Murder Rate: US rate is five times that of Japan. Smoking Rate: Japans is double that of the US. (This is the one area the US has done very well at from a healthcare POV) Obesity: US rate of Obesity is ten times higher than Japan. Over 30% in the US versus 3% in Japan. Infant Mortality: The US Infant Mortality Rate is more than double that of Japan. These stats give us an interesting glimpse of where we are. It is interesting that the US reduction in smoking has had little effect on reducing healthcare costs. This should tell us that obesity is a much bigger problem, and it is. As the obesity rate has more than doubled over the last 40 years, spending on healthcare has also more than doubled. Is there a correlation? Of course there is, but it is a bit more complex than that. Given that however, the fact is that a very large percentage of our increase in healthcare spending has come from the simple fact that America has become way too fat. The bottom line is that we can reduce our healthcare costs dramatically by reducing our weight. Unfortunately this is not going to be an easy task, especially with a large percentage of the populations screaming that nobody is going to tell them what they can and cannot eat. God forbid Michele Obama suggest that people eat healthier. Of course, it's not all just about diet. Honestly it is just as much about exercise, and it starts with our kids. They no longer get enough. When I was a kid, back in the 70's, we didn't have video games, computers, cell phones, or much of anything. Television was pretty basic and everyone watched a few of their favorite shows each week. So what did we do back then? We went outside and played. We played baseball, basketball, football, smear the queer, you name it. We were outside riding our bikes, we went to the public pool during the summer and listened to Rose Royce singing Car Wash. When we came home for dinner, we smelled terrible from sweating all day long. We were active. What we did not do was sit in front of the TV playing some stupid X-Box game eating potato chips and drinking soda for eight hours per day. So how do we change all this and get kids back into shape? Honestly, there is only one answer that I can see that is workable, because parents aren't going to do it, and we can't take away all the video games and things that keep kids from becoming active. What it means is that we need to invest more money into our schools, make the school days longer, and use the extra time on physical activities. In other words, force the kids to be active for a couple of hours per day. The simple fact is that if kids don't become fat while they are kids, they will be and are much less likely to become fat as adults. Rather than concentrating on how to help people lose all the excess weight, we need to concentrate on not letting people become fat to begin with. But I know, it's such a communist idea.