It’s official: 1 in 4 Americans are obese.
The National Health Center for Statistics’ latest findings, published in early October, show nearly 40% of all adults and 19% of young people are clinically obese. This is the highest obesity rate the US has ever seen, and the study’s lead author Dr. Craig Hales, medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says there’s “no signs of it slowing down.”
These statistics prove that despite best efforts put forward by government health officials, and programs such as Healthy People 2020 – a 2010 government attempt to tackle obesity – it’s simply not enough.
This rise in obesity causes more and more Americans to become increasingly weak, making them susceptible to a myriad of illnesses. In addition to ailments that are directly impacted by the pressure of excess weight such as arthritis, there are also many life-threatening diseases caused by obesity. Heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, 630,000 annual cancer cases, and many other chronic diseases are caused by obesity.
The cost of obese citizens comes with a hefty price tag for all Americans. A study in the Obesity Journal estimated the financial burdens of obesity on society as a whole. An obese 50-year old with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels costs 36K a year. That figure includes people’s direct medical care for obesity-related diseases, along with lost productivity from disability or time off from work.
How does that cost pass along to you? Because obesity leads to many other problems, it ultimately raises everyone’s health insurance premiums, Lee said. Imagine how much more expensive the care is when drugs to control hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol are added.
It directly affects the individual too.
“When folks struggle with their weight, it ends up affecting everyone,” said senior researcher Dr. Bruce Lee. He’s an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. “You’re paying the insurance premium and the copays,” Lee said. “And if your productivity is reduced, that affects your wallet, too.”
Americans already pay more for their healthcare than any other country in the world. in 2015, the US spent $3.2 TRILLION on health care. Most of the cost was eaten up by a number of highly-preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease — just two conditions that are a result of being obese.
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