Obesity Will Cost U.S. $344 Billion a Year in Health Care Costs

Monday, January 04, 2010 by: E. Huff, staff writer
Tags: obesity, health care costs, health news

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(NaturalNews) An analysis of projected health care costs has revealed that by the year 2018, obesity-related medical expenses will top $344 billion. Current estimates suggest that in just ten years 43 percent of Americans will be obese if obesity continues to rise at the current rate.

According to Reed Tuckson of the United Health Foundation, an average healthy adult in 2018 will incur about $5,855 in medical expenses a year. An obese person will sustain about 42 more in medical expenses in the same year. If obesity rates continue to rise at the current rate, Colorado could be the only state in 2018 with at least 70 percent of its residents at a healthy weight.

Tuckson emphasized that most of the obesity-related diseases that are set to flood the health care system are preventable. He hopes that the report will spur action in dealing with the risk factors that contribute to obesity. By implementing preventive measures, the financial burden caused by treating obesity-related diseases will be greatly reduced.

Though smoking remains the number one preventable cause of death in the United States, obesity and diseases like heart and kidney failure that result from it hold a close second in the health care cost equation. In 1998, medical spending on obese people was half of what it is today. It could more than double in the next decade, accounting for more than 20 percent of overall medical expenses.

Of the three primary diseases related to both smoking and obesity - diabetes, heart disease, and cancer - $1.8 trillion a year is spent treating them. Eric Finkelstein, co-author of The Fattening of America stated that unless a serious effort is made by Americans to shape up and improve their diets, costs will continue to skyrocket.

Part of the problem with obesity is the American industrial food system that composes what is popularly termed the "Western" diet. Rich in bad fats, refined sugars, and oftentimes genetically-modified ingredients, the components of the Western diet are the primary triggers in obesity. Quantity plays a part as well, but the substance is most likely the primary contributor.

Meat eaters would do best to purchase only pastured, grass-fed meats that are low in bad fat and high in omega-3s, healthy fats, and other nutrients. Organic fruits and vegetables will also help to regulate proper weight. Healthy oils like olive and coconut will go far in regulating metabolism. Avoidance of refined flours and grains, sugars, GMOs, and other processed food ingredients is also necessary to maintaining a healthy weight.

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