U.S. obesity problem strains healthcare costs

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07/30/2009

Remind yourself of this the next time you stop at McDonalds with a hankering for a Big Mac, fries and a large soft drink:

The proportion of obese Americans increased by 37% in the eight years leading up to 2006, prompting a $40 billion a year rise in healthcare costs, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC study, published this week,  estimates that obesity costs the country $140 billion a year in extra medical costs. Obese people spend on average $1,500 a year more for medical care than a person of healthy weight.

Most of the increased healthcare costs result from the cost of prescription medication for obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

This is a terrible problem that will take its toll on U.S. society for years to come. If you’re a provider who supplies bariatric equipment and services, you owe it to yourself, your patients and your referral sources to learn as much about obesity as possible. By becoming a valuable and supportive resource, you'll be doing your country a great service.

For some interesting insights on the obesity epidemic, check out this NPR interview with Dr. David Kessler, the former head of the FDA.

— Mike Moran

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