LJWorld.com weblogs Dangerous Ideas
Is prevention worth it?
A study in PLOS Medicine challenges the notion that preventing obesity and smoking reduces over all health costs. The authors modeled life time health care costs under a number of scenarios and their results suggest that preventing obesity and smoking actually increases life time health care costs. The two factors contributing to this counter intuitive result are increased life span resulting from prevention and the shift from acute diseases associated with smoking and obesity to chronic diseases that are more expensive over the person's life time.Don't reach for that cigarette or stop that exercising though. The authors note that their study does not address other sorts of economic and social costs. For instance the indirect costs associated with smoking and obesity could easily exceed the direct medical costs.Also they assume that treatment costs are constant for medical problems regardless of whether or not a person is obese or smokes. For example, the authors observe that treating back problems might be more expensive if a person is obese. You can read the study for yourself athttp://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050029