Opportunity cost is defined as the cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. For example, the opportunity cost of spending all of your money on a nice car having no money for food, a house, entertainment, gas for the car, etc…. It’s a fairly straight forward concept and can be used in many areas to describe the costs of making a particular decision.
Ill-health is usually measured in relation to disease such that the opportunity cost of getting sick is measured as lost years of life. We cannot disagree with this measurement as something like a terminal diagnosis of cancer does shorten ones life expectancy but it doesn’t capture the full opportunity cost of ill-health which is that of lost quality of life.
When considering the opportunity cost of obesity, we need to consider a multitude of factors. Obese people tend to spend more money on food, fuel, and clothing, so there is a financial cost. They also tend to have fewer options when it comes to clothing and fashion, so there is a style and creative expression cost. Many obese people report a sense of alienation, ostracization and general anxiety when in public, so there is a psychological cost.
The psychological cost can have a wide scope – some people report a loss of confidence that causes them to limit their risk exposure so they don’t take the chances that may lead them towards a more complete experience of life. They may limit their dating options, job opportunities, vacation experiences and their general sense of being in control of their own life. Compounding these are the obese behaviors that one may display such as emotional eating, eating disorders and escapist actions such as substance abuse, abusive relationships and compulsiveness in other areas.
One does not have to be obese to experience the negative opportunity cost. Many people experience a boost in confidence when they lower their body fat, increase their level of lean muscle mass or increase their strength. This confidence can be leveraged in many ways to expose the individual to a variety of new stimuli or situations that improve the quality of life – participation in sports, seeking out different companionship partners, visiting new places, etc…
When viewed in this light, the opportunity cost of not being as healthy and fit as possible is very expensive. At best it comes down to living a life that isn’t of as high a quality as it could be and at worst it comes down to living a life of isolation and fear. When positioned against the amount of nutrition and exercise effort needed to improve ones health to a confidence inspiring level it doesn’t make much sense to avoid the putting in the work.
When making the decision about enrolling yourself in a life transformation program, consider both the cost of NOT doing it and benefit OF doing it.