OBESITY: 20% of Americans Obese, Exceeding $240B Annually
A new report from the Lewin Group says the cost of treating America's growing number of obese adults accounts for about a third of the cost of treating 15 major diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and stroke. The report, commissioned by the American Obesity Association, predicts that the cost of treating obese patients will reach $238 billion this year, "including $102 billion for the 15 diseases and $136 billion more based on their chances of getting other ailments" including arthritis, various cancers, kidney, gallbladder and liver disease. The estimate does not include $33 billion in costs for weight loss programs, nor does it account for about $47 billion in lost productivity or absenteeism, the New York Times reports. "The country has been in denial about the whole obesity issue," said American Obesity Association Executive Director Morgan Downey. "[B]lood pressure, diabetes and stroke are quickly becoming problems for younger and younger people," he added, and the rising costs of treatment for these diseases "are going to frustrate almost all the efforts to control health care costs." The government defines obesity as a weight-to-height ratio (body mass index) of 30 or higher, for example 180 pounds at 5 feet 5 inches (Freudenheim, 9/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.