This is what I originally wrote on a Facebook post:

‘The following is politically incorrect. I don’t care. Actually, I do care, which is why I choose truth over diplomacy:

Obesity is killing New Zealand. It is NOT due to genetics, income or race. It’s due to over-consumption of crap food and sugary drinks coupled with inactivity, laziness and the lack of willpower. Our hospitals and outpatient clinics are filled with people who are committing suicide in this way. If they’re so determined to eat themselves to death we should just let them and keep the hospitals beds for the more deserving. If people had to pay for the treatment of self-imposed diabetes and renal failure the incidence of obesity in New Zealand would reduce dramatically.

The same can be said for those fill our hospitals suffering the effects of alcohol. Every weekend the Emergency Departments of hospitals are packed with pissed people who have hurt themselves and others. Insurance companies (quite rightly) won’t pay for the stupidity of drunkards, why should we? If you are hospitalised due to something you did when you were pissed, you should pay for the treatment.
As for those suffering the medical repercussions of smoking — fuck you! You knew what you were doing. You chose to smoke. It’s your right, you say. Well, my stinky, free-willed friends, hospital treatment isn’t free. So since you chose to follow a path that led to pain and suffering (and no-doubt effected a few non-smokers along the way) you can bloody well pay for the care you’ll need.
What I’m saying in essence is that we should all accept responsibility for our own actions. But, sadly, many will read this as an elitist, old man’s diatribe and want to write a rebuttal citing socio-economic factors and all kinds of other wishy-washy rationales. And so the cycle will continue because, although we all know what’s true, we simply can’t handle it.’

Needless to say there was a fairly instant response and, not unexpectedly, there were those with more compassionate views discussing the social, emotional and financial problems that can cause some people to overeat, (or eat crap), smoke and abuse alcohol.
Frankly, I believe that these are the exceptions rather the rule, however, with this in mind, in the spirit of the adage: “Better to build a fence at the top of the cliff than provide an ambulance at the bottom,’ here’s a suggestion that might seem fatuous at first reading, but just might work:

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION.

What if we were to offer financial incentives for people to lose weight? Say $1000 for every 10kg lost. Of course you’d have to lose the weight and keep it off not embark upon some ‘binge and starvation’ cycle in order to recycle the weight loss and reap the ongoing rewards.

You could also offer a one-off payment to those who stop smoking — payable, say, after one year of not smoking. Albeit that the smoker would have already saved hundreds of dollars by not smoking for a year.

I know this might sound like a ‘Nanny State’ approach and is undeniably a ‘Pay Now Benefit Later’ idea but I’m sure it would save the country millions — possibly billions — in health costs in the long run.

More importantly, people would lead happier, healthier lives and it would help adults, parents in particular, to change their ways and set a better example for children.

Surely everyone would win.

JOHN HANLON
September 8, 2016