Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Obesity is Costly and Getting Costlier

Eighteen months ago, I wrote about the high cost of being overweight or obese.  George Washington University researchers had estimated the cost of being overweight for women as $524 annually and for men as $432. (While overweight and obese women earn less than those at a healthy weight, men are not disadvantaged this way.)    Their estimated annual cost of obesity was outright alarming: $4879 for women and $2646 for men.

Let’s keep those figures in mind and consider a national perspective.  Recently the USA Today reported that Duke University researchers predict that the adult obesity rate may increase from 36% in 2010 to 42% in 2030.  Think your health insurance premiums are high now?  Obesity raises an individual’s risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic, disabling illnesses.  This increase would cost the U.S. $549.5 billion in weight-related medical expenditures in the next 18 years. 

The good news is that we are not helpless!  Diets and weight loss supplements do not work.  Just earlier today I heard a DJ suggesting we drink a combination of grapefruit juice, apple cider vinegar, and honey before every meal to “burn 30% more fat.”  My mantra in response to such advice is “there is no evidence to support that claim.”  Instead, read food labels and pay attention to serving size.  Gradually change your diet so that ultimately you routinely have fruit at breakfast, two servings of vegetables at lunch and dinner, and a fruit or vegetable with every snack.  Let’s keep the weight off and our money in our pockets!

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