Weigh More, Pay More, editorial on obesity and airline ticket pricing


148 posts in this topic

Posted

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/singer84/English

Did you that know Project Syndicate is launching a new Web site? To read this article on the beta version of our new site, please click here.

MELBOURNE – We are getting fatter. In Australia, the United States, and many other countries, it has become commonplace to see people so fat that they waddle rather than walk. The rise in obesity is steepest in the developed world, but it is occurring in middle-income and poor countries as well.

Is a person’s weight his or her own business? Should we simply become more accepting of diverse body shapes? I don’t think so. Obesity is an ethical issue, because an increase in weight by some imposes costs on others.

I am writing this at an airport. A slight Asian woman has checked in with, I would guess, about 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of suitcases and boxes. She pays extra for exceeding the weight allowance. A man who must weigh at least 40 kilos more than she does, but whose baggage is under the limit, pays nothing. Yet, in terms of the airplane’s fuel consumption, it is all the same whether the extra weight is baggage or body fat.

Tony Webber, a former chief economist for the Australian airline Qantas, has pointed out that, since 2000, the average weight of adult passengers on its planes has increased by two kilos. For a large, modern aircraft like the Airbus A380, that means that an extra $472 of fuel has to be burned on a flight from Sydney to London. If the airline flies that route in both directions three times a day, over a year it will spend an additional $1 million for fuel, or, on current margins, about 13% of the airline’s profit from operating that route.

Webber suggests that airlines set a standard passenger weight, say, 75 kilos. If a passenger weighs 100 kilos, a surcharge would be charged to cover the extra fuel costs. For a passenger who is 25 kilos overweight, the surcharge on a Sydney-London return ticket would be $29. A passenger weighing just 50 kilos would get a discount of the same amount.

Another way to achieve the same objective would be to set a standard weight for passengers and luggage, and then ask people to get on the scales with their luggage. That would have the advantage of avoiding embarrassment for those who do not wish to reveal their weight.

Friends with whom I discuss this proposal often say that many obese people cannot help being overweight – they just have a different metabolism from the rest of us. But the point of a surcharge for extra weight is not to punish a sin, whether it is levied on baggage or on bodies. It is a way of recouping from you the true cost of flying you to your destination, rather than imposing it on your fellow passengers. Flying is different from, say, health care. It is not a human right.

An increase in the use of jet fuel is not just a matter of financial cost; it also implies an environmental cost, as higher greenhouse-gas emissions exacerbate global warming. It is a minor example of how the size of our fellow-citizens affects us all. When people get larger and heavier, fewer of them fit onto a bus or train, which increases the costs of public transport. Hospitals now must order stronger beds and operating tables, build extra-large toilets, and even install extra-large refrigerators in their morgues – all adding to their costs.

Indeed, obesity imposes a far more significant cost in terms of health care more broadly. Last year, the Society of Actuaries estimated that in the United States and Canada, overweight or obese people accounted for $127 billion in additional health-care expenditure. That adds hundreds of dollars to annual health-care costs for taxpayers and those who pay for private health insurance. The same study indicated that the costs of lost productivity, both among those still working and among those unable to work at all because of obesity, totaled $115 billion.

These facts are enough to justify public policies that discourage weight gain. Taxing foods that are disproportionately implicated in obesity – especially foods with no nutritional value, such as sugary drinks – would help. The revenue raised could then be used to offset the extra costs that overweight people impose on others, and the increased cost of these foods could discourage their consumption by people who are at risk of obesity, which is second only to tobacco use as the leading cause of preventable death.

Many of us are rightly concerned about whether our planet can support a human population that has surpassed seven billion. But we should think of the size of the human population not just in terms of numbers, but also in terms of its mass. If we value both sustainable human well-being and our planet’s natural environment, my weight – and yours – is everyone’s business.

Peter Singer is Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, The Expanding Circle, and The Life You Can Save.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2012.

www.project-syndicate.org

You might also like to read more from Peter Singer or return to our home page.

Thoughts? It certainly makes sense to me. If weight on a plane makes a difference, weight of a passenger should be taken into account.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Friends with whom I discuss this proposal often say that many obese people cannot help being overweight – they just have a different metabolism from the rest of us. But the point of a surcharge for extra weight is not to punish a sin, whether it is levied on baggage or on bodies. It is a way of recouping from you the true cost of flying you to your destination, rather than imposing it on your fellow passengers. Flying is different from, say, health care. It is not a human right.

Sounds about right, to me.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

as a smaller person, I don't mind this

It does sound kinda mean doe

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I'm fine with this and lol at fat people trying to blame their metabolism for being fat

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Its funny how only Americans have metabolism problems.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Fat people shouldn't be allowed to have aisle seats either. nothing is worse than being trapped by one of those whales.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I am tired of hearing the "i'm fat because of whatever reason" I bet if these fat people asked their grandparents how many fat people they knew growing up they would say zero. I saw maybe 10 fat people in Iraq after traveling over a boatload of the country. And those 10 people were normal American size.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Sounds reasonable to a degree. But would children get some serious discounts then?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

It would seem unfair to me if someone was 6'5, had a 3% body fat and weights 230lbs but still paid more than who's 4'10, 40% body fat and weights 180lbs because they were heavier. They either have to increase the overall costs or airlines need to find other ways to make up the money (say offer more foods and drinks on a plane that, perhaps an overweight person would want to eat).

There was an article in the latest Men's Health about obesity and it's generally believed schools and parents should be held responsible and then governments should instigate both a sugar and a fat tax so discourage poor eating. Then again, it's mostly in the western world where people are pre-occupied with weight over body fat % (which matters so much more).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Flying is different from, say, health care. It is not a human right.

Healthcare is not a human right either ... its a service just like flying ... just as an airline need to make a profit to stay in business ... so do doctors and hospitals .....

good and services are not rights becuase someone must be paid ... a right requires no payment

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Sounds reasonable to a degree. But would children get some serious discounts then?

Hell no.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I'm fine with this and lol at fat people trying to blame their metabolism for being fat

Ditto.

Eat a carrot, you fat sumbitch.

No patience whatsoever for fat slobs. "Metabolism" my ass...it's quarts upon quarts of Ben & Jerrys.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Hell no.

Why not? The article states that lighter persons would get a discount. Wouldn’t that also apply to children?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Obesity is a moral failure that dooms the rest of society to pay for your indulgences, your diabetes, and your heart disease, and asks us for tears when your fat ass dies.

The metabolism thing is absolute bullshit. Do some people have higher metabolisms, lower? Sure. My wife can and does eat cookies every night before bed, is 5'9" and weighs 118. It's not fair.

But I have a lower metabolism, and so I DON'T EAT THE GODDAMN COOKIES. I work out five times a week, and eat a high-protein diet. I'll have days where I throw caution into the wind, sit on my ass, and worship at the Altar of the Samoa, but that's rare.

Fat people absolutely disgust me and that they should pay more for their ticket isn't discrimination, it's just science.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

It should definitley be taken into account, but I'm not sure how exactly airlines would handle the execution of it. Are they just going to have scales set up and weigh people as they get on the plane or what?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

It should definitley be taken into account, but I'm not sure how exactly airlines would handle the execution of it. Are they just going to have scales set up and weigh people as they get on the plane or what?

1. You estimate your weight when you buy the ticket (probably online).

2. You weigh in at check-in.

3. They charge or credit your card with the difference.

Think about it! Planes could be like weddings, where you plan on losing a bunch of weight before, but this time it'll save you cash!!!

:fap:

...seriously, though. The only thing that motivates mankind at large is money. We would immediately become a far healthier nation if someone was charging us for being fat. I've long advocated fat taxes/health credits. This could be a great private sector incentive to get us healthier.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Gregarious Ghost weighs nothing. He is a ghost.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

You have yet to answer my question regarding children, BIGBISCUIT :0

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

You have yet to answer my question regarding children, BIGBISCUIT :0

Yes, children should get epic discounts. Seats should be a base rate, plus a weight surcharge. The child's surcharge would be dirt cheap. You are really paying for space and fuel on a plane. Every seat should have a base price (times two for fatties like Kevin Smith), then a weight surcharge.

It makes perfect sense.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

In Canada, if you're so overweight that you can't safely fit in one seat, the airline has to provide you with two seats at no extra charge. :canada:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

In Canada, if you're so overweight that you can't safely fit in one seat, the airline has to provide you with two seats at no extra charge. :canada:

That is RETARDED. Obesity should be taxable or criminal, or both. Shouldn't be subsidized, or worse, forced to be paid for by private companies.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

That is RETARDED. Obesity should be taxable or criminal, or both. Shouldn't be subsidized, or worse, forced to be paid for by private companies.

Meh. Once people get that big, I don't see it any different than any other disability.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I'm inclined to agree with most of you in this thread, that fatasses should pay more. There should be an exemption for disabled and older people, though.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Meh. Once people get that big, I don't see it any different than any other disability.

Except they do it to themselves.

No one with muscular dystrophy, or Down's syndrome, or deformities got that way on their own. Obesity is a disability like alcohol or cigarettes are. It's retarded. This isn't an argument, this is fact. Obesity is caused by the people who suffer from it, not but outside forces.

But yes, please, let's keep excusing morally bankrupt, pathetic, disgusting behavior because Jim-Bob and his fatass wife Sue-Ellen couldn't keep their hands off Big Macs for every meal of the day.

Do you people understand resting metabolic rate? It's how much your body consumes just sitting around doing nothing. Mine is about 1800 calories/day. So, when I work out, burn about 600-700 calories, so I need to eat around 2400 to stay my current weight.

A fat person's is going to be double or triple that, just to maintain body weight, and they don't work out.

That means that THESE FAT FUCKS HAVE TO EAT OVER 3000 TO 4000 CALORIES A GODDAMN DAY TO STAY FAT. DON'T TELL ME IT'S A DISABILITY. IT'S A COMPLETE LOAD OF SHIT. DO YOU REALIZE HOW HARD IT IS TO EAT THAT MUCH IN ONE DAY?!?!?!

We're not talking about Michael Phelps, here, who needs that to fuel his athletic performance. We're talking about sick losers who never work out, eat impossible amounts, and ask us to pay for it.

FUCK.

THEM.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I'm all for this if I get to challenge all the under 200 pound fucks to a push up contest or 2-3 mile race or something. Including the airline staff.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now