It’s a fantastic list. It includes Satanisim, Pokemon, swear words, and OBESITY EPIDEMIC BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!
But the science proved hard for the panic to overcome. In 2005, a team of CDC researchers published a study finding significant flaws with the 400,000 figure. The real number, they said, was closer to 112,000. And when you add in the protective effects of being mildly overweight, the number drops to 26,000. Moreover, while Americans have been getting fatter for 25 years, we still set new life expectancy records each year, and deaths from heart disease, cancer, and stroke have all fallen dramatically over that period. This is of course mostly due to advances in medical science. But obesity isn’t exactly bringing on a public health calamity, either. As for medical costs, a 2008 Dutch study suggests what would seem to be intuitive: People who live longer tend to incur more lifetime medical expenses. Meaning that if obesity does modestly shorten lifespans, it does so at a savings to taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.