"As the government assumes a larger share of health care costs, it is increasingly able to use that as a justification to intrude into personal decisions or private enterprises, whether it's a matter of smoking policy, trans-fats, or salt," we wrote last month. Now the Wall Street Journal is out with an editorial praising Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity, reasoning, "the reality is that U.S. obesity imposes huge costs on taxpayers. In 2006, the per capita increase in spending attributable to obesity was 36% for Medicare and 47% for Medicaid, according to a paper last year in Health Affairs. Many fat kids grow up to be fat adults, and you've got to start somewhere."
Almost any behavior or decisions, from eating to driving to sports participation, has implications on one's potential future health care costs. So by this logic, almost anything can be regulated. For example, I would argue that sex has a much higher health care cost impact than eating, not just in STD's but in the cost of pregnancies and pediatrics. Or as another example, our family spent far more in health care costs on treating our kids' accidents while playing sports than in dealing with any obesity costs. Should we be requiring kids to stay indoors playing on the computer where they will be safe from potentially expensive accidents?