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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Obesity: A Major Health Issue in America

Over the past two decades, obesity in America has sharply increased. Sixty million Americans age 20 years and older are obese. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one-third of all adults and 17 percent of children (12.5 million) in the U.S. are obese. Obesity is the No. 2 cause of preventable death in the U.S.

Obesity is a serious health problem. It increases the chances of getting breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, colon cancer, hypertension and stroke, to name a few. Additional costs associated with obesity is estimated at $39.3 million in lost work days, doctor visits of $62.7 million, and over $119 million due to restricted activity at work or bed-ridden days.

What is equally disturbing is the number of children affected by obesity. Eighty-five percent of children diagnosed with Type II diabetes are obese. From 1982 to 1994, childhood obesity rose from 4 percent to 16 percent. Hospital costs related to childhood obesity increased from $35 million in 1979 to $127 million in 1999.

The National Heart Forum in a recent analysis of obesity rates state-by-state outlined projected cost savings for each state if they reduced the average Body Mass Index (BMI = measure of fat in the body) by just 5 percent by the year 2030. In Mississippi, the state with the highest obesity rate, the savings are predicted to be over $6 billion.

But it's not just about saving money. It's true that there is only so much health care providers and government reform can do to try to lower the cost of health care. Consumers need to take responsibility for their own health by developing good eating habits, reading labels, and paying more attention to what they eat and drink. Obesity is the No. 2 cause of PREVENTABLE death in the U.S. It can be prevented, along with a long list of many other serious health problems caused by obesity.
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