This Silent Public-Health Crisis Costs The US $150 Billion A Year
Posted by Tyler Durden on September 4, 2017 11:00 pm
Tags: Bariatrics, Body shape, Childhood obesity, Epidemiology of obesity, Health, Hospitality, Leadership for Healthy Communities, Medicare, medicine, national security, Nutrition, Obesity, Obesity in the United States, overweight, Social Issues, Trust for America, West Virginia
Categories: Bariatrics Body shape Childhood obesity Economy Epidemiology of obesity Health Hospitality Leadership for Healthy Communities Medicare medicine national security nutrition obesity Obesity in the United States overweight Social Issues Trust for America West Virginia
The opioid epidemic isn’t the only public-health crisis costing the economy hundreds of billions of dollars. According to the Trust for America’s Health’s annual “State of Obesity” report, nearly 40% of American adults are obese or overweight. And collectively, they will add some $150 billion to the cost of health care, and billions more in lost productivity.
Obesity rates have finally stabilized after having nearly tripled since the CDC first began tracking them in 1960. They’ve doubled since the 1980s. Particularly problematic is childhood obesity, which is correlated with poor performance and school and other factors that could impact a child’s wellbeing into adulthood.
According to the study, obesity disproportionately affects low-income Americans:
“Obesity disproportionately affects low-income and rural communities as well as certain racial and ethnic groups, including Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans. Societal inequities contribute to these disparities. For example, in many communities, children have few safe outdoor spaces to play or accessible routes to walk or bike to school. Their neighborhoods may often be food deserts, having small food outlets and fast-food restaurants that sell and advertise unhealthy food and beverages, but lacking those with fresh and healthy foods at affordable prices. Thus, addressing the obesity epidemic is also a fight for health equity.”
The report, which is accompanied by charts and maps, illustrates how obesity rates vary across different regions, with West Virginia (and a preponderance of poor, South states) having the highest obesity rate among adults, at 37.7% Colorado, meanwhile, has the nation’s lowest with 22.3%. Mississippi wins the superlative for highest childhood-obesity rate at 21.7%, with Oregon owning the lowest, at 9.9%.
“Obesity rates vary state-to-state, but remain high nationwide. Across the United States, more than one in three adults and one in six children (ages 2-19) are obese — and one in 11 young children (ages 2-5) are obese. Adult obesity rates range from a high of 37.7 in West Virginia to a low of 22.3 in Colorado. Childhood rates are highest in Mississippi (21.7 percent) and lowest in Oregon (9.9 percent). Obesity rates also differ from county to county, and neighborhood to neighborhood.
More than 20 states have counties with adult obesity rates above 40 percent, including 29 counties in Mississippi and 14 counties in Alabama. Only two states have counties with adult obesity rates below 20 percent: 17 counties in Colorado and one in Massachusetts.”
Obesity is a massive drain on state Medicare programs…
“Each state and community is impacted by the cost of obesity — severe obesity alone costs state Medicaid programs between $5 million in Wyoming and $1.3 billion in California each year. Overall obesity related healthcare costs range from $279 per person per year in Wyoming to $768 in Oregon. Employers want to operate businesses in places with healthier populations — with a workforce that is more productive and has lower healthcare costs.”
…and workplace productivity…
“Obesity costs our nation more than $149 billion in healthcare costs each year. Indirect costs attributable to obesity also run in the billions due to absenteeism in school and jobs and reduced productivity. One study estimated indirect absenteeism costs to be as much as $6.3 billion annually.”
…it even impacts national security by having a deleterious effect on military readiness.
“Obesity is a national security issue. The obesity crisis also impacts our nation’s military readiness. Being overweight or obese is the leading cause of medical disqualifications, with nearly one-quarter of service applicants rejected for exceeding the weight or body fat standards. Obese service members and members of their family who are obese cost the military about $1 billion every year in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Mission: Readiness has found that more than 70 percent of today’s youth are not fit to serve in the military due to obesity or being overweight, criminal records, drug misuse or educational deficits.”
The study’s authors claim that the most effective policies to combat childhood obesity are implemented at the local level, and involve the cooperation of local institutions like schools, hospitals, universities and philanthropies.
“The most successful approaches are often comprehensive, localized, “place-based” efforts — where leaders and members of a community build partnerships that bring together public health and healthcare providers; hospitals, schools and universities; child-care providers and centers; social service groups; philanthropies; community-based, faith-based and community development organizations; and transportation and housing planners — to assess the priorities within the local area; leverage existing community resources; and determine the most effective, evidence-based strategies that can best meet their needs. Experts have identified a range of policies and programs that communities can implement to help make healthy eating and physical activity part of people’s daily routines, including improving school nutrition, complete streets initiatives, access to open space, incentives for healthy food purchases, food labeling and limits on advertising to children.”
For adult obesity, workplace wellness programs, insurance incentives, and making unhealthy food more expensive and inconvenient (i.e. taxing it) all appear to have some impact. While rates have largely stabilized since reaching all-time highs, the study warns that costs associated with obesity have not. As obese adults age, chronic health problems like diabetes will cause health-care costs to soar, making insurers already-fragile risk pools even more untenable.
Read the full report below: