Here’s the thing about obesity from a personal injury lawsuit perspective: sooner or later, some defense lawyer is going to argue that a victim of medical malpractice, or on the job work injuries, or product failures or product defects, or a traffic accident, is someone that should not get as much in a financial award as another person in their place, because that victim weighed too much under some set of government guidelines or standards.
Expect Defendants Who Are Responsible for Serious Injuries to Start Using Obesity Statistics to Try and Avoid Paying Damages
It’s not fair, but fat may be argued as a contributing cause to many things in personal injury claims and it’s important to consider this reality as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issues its latest national study on obesity in America. The CDC, for example, argues that medical costs for those who are obese are higher than those of normal weight — imagine the insurance argument that the defendant, even though at fault, should not have to pay for costs that exceed the “normal” range.
It’s already being done (see, for example, this British Columbia case where the argument failed).
CDC’s National Study – Many Americans are Overweight or Obese According to Their Research Findings
Here’s what the Center for Disease Control has to report:
In 2011, rates of adult obesity remain high, with state estimates ranging from 20.7 percent in Colorado to 34.9 percent in Mississippi. No state had a prevalence of adult obesity less than 20 percent, and 12 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia) had a prevalence of 30 percent or more. The South had the highest prevalence of adult obesity (29.5 percent), followed by the Midwest (29 percent), the Northeast (25.3 percent) and the West (24.3 percent).
In 2011, several updates occurred with BRFSS that impact estimates of state-level adult obesity prevalence. First, there was an overall change in the BRFSS methodology, including the incorporation of cell-phone only households, and a new weighting process. These changes in methodology were made to ensure that the sample better represents the population in each state. Second, to generate more accurate estimates of obesity prevalence, small changes were made to the criteria used to determine which respondents are included in the data analysis.
Because of these changes in methodology, estimates of obesity prevalence from 2011 forward cannot be compared to estimates from previous years. Data collected in 2011 will provide a new baseline for obesity prevalence data collected in subsequent years.
BRFSS is only one of several data sets that monitor rates of obesity in the United States. When considering these other data sets, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the obesity epidemic is still a major public health problem.