Saturday, August 1, 2009
Cost of Treating Obesity Soars
Here is an article I found that is very interesting. We need to take care of ourselves because whether or not we pay for health care by choice or universally, we all pay for each other in the end. Take care of yourself and we all benefit. The responsibility is ours alone and no one elses. Anyways, enjoy!
"The medical costs of treating obesity-related diseases may have soared as high as $147 billion in 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday, as its new director set a fresh tone in favor of more aggressively attacking obesity.
The cost of treating obesity doubled over a decade, signaling the rising prevalence of excess weight and the toll it is taking on the health-care system. The medical costs of obesity were estimated to be $74 billion in 1998, according to a study by federal government researchers and RTI International, a nonprofit research institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
The findings were released at a conference on obesity held by the CDC in Washington, D.C. The prevalence of obesity rose 37% between 1998 and 2006, and medical costs climbed to about 9.1% of all U.S. medical costs, the researchers said.
Obese people spent 42% more than people of normal weight on medical costs in 2006, a difference of $1,429, the study found. Prescription drugs accounted for much of the increase.
The numbers underscore the urgent need for deeper interventions in society and the environment that will make it easier for people to maintain normal weight, Thomas Frieden, the CDC’s new director, told conference attendees. While obesity rates among some population groups have shown signs of leveling off, that is of little comfort, he said: The average American is about 23 pounds overweight. Obesity is causing disabilities and exacerbating health disparities, he said. The average American consumes about 250 calories more a day now than two or three decades ago.
“Obesity and with it diabetes are the only major health problems that are getting worse in this country, and they’re getting worse rapidly,” he said.
Change is needed on many fronts, he added. “Reversing obesity is not going to be done successfully with individual effort.”
While the CDC is not a regulatory agency and has only a $43 million budget this year for nutrition, physical activity and obesity programs, it is now stepping up its efforts to combat obesity. Last week, the agency released a set of recommendations to help communities prevent and combat obesity. They include discouraging the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, instituting smaller portion-size options in venues such as government facilities, and requiring physical education in schools.
As New York City’s health commissioner for more than seven years, Dr. Frieden was known for measures such as banning artificial trans fats in some foods and requiring certain chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus. In an article published in April in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Frieden and Kelly Brownell, a professor at Yale University, proposed a penny-an-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, arguing that those drinks “may be the single largest driver of the obesity epidemic.”
In his speech Monday, Dr. Frieden said measures that had worked to control tobacco, such as taxes and reducing exposure, could help control obesity, too. Those could include a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. A 10% price increase on sugared beverages could reduce consumption 7.8%, he said.
But he didn’t express the proposal as a policy of the Obama administration. The CDC doesn’t officially endorse an increase in taxes on soda, but cites price increases as a proven strategy for tobacco control and says they should be considered as a strategy for obesity control.
The beverage industry opposes soda-tax proposals. “It’s overreaching when government uses the tax code to tell people what they can eat or drink, said Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association. “It’s hard to make the connection that there’s a unique tie between soft drinks and obesity.” "