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Health: Using Your Head

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The debate over classifying obesity as a disease pits the head against the heart.

From the heart's perspective, it would be a good idea. Most overweight people have health problems. If obesity were defined as a disease, insurance companies might have to pay the cost of treatment.

Americans already spend about $40 billion a year on weight-loss programs. If they didn't have to worry about the costs, more people might do what they need to do to slim down and be healthier.

The head, however, says that while a few people are overweight because of chemical imbalances they cannot control, most simply place more emphasis on instant gratification than long-term consequences.

Insurance companies would have to raise premiums to pay $40 billion or more a year in weight- loss treatments -- and health insurance already is expensive enough.

On balance, it seems to us, individuals ought to pay the cost of dealing with their own choices and let the insurance companies concentrate on ailments people cannot control through their own actions.

(C) 2003 The Florida Times-Union. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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