Keeping Obesity Rates Down Could Save Millions

May 8, 2012
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Keeping Obesity Rates Down Could Save Millions

Connie K. Ho for RedOrbit.com

Researchers of a public health study recently released information regarding a link between cost savings and obesity that could take place over the next two decades. The study found that 42 percent of the U.S. population could be obese by 2030 and that the U.S. healthcare system could struggle with the additional cost of 32 million more obese people over the next 20 years. Researchers from Duke University, RTI International, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that action needs to be taken to stop the obesity rates from increasing.

“Keeping obesity rates level could yield a savings of nearly $550 billion in medical expenditures over the next two decades,” noted lead author Dr. Eric Finkelstein, an associate research professor in the Duke Global Health Institute and deputy director in the Health Services Research Program at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.

The study is based off data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System as well as state-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other organizations. The report is published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Prevention Medicine. It highlights a prediction that obesity rates will rise to 11 percent by 2030.

Those who are considered obese have a body mass index over 40 and are about 100 pounds overweight; they also encounter more health conditions and an increase in medical costs.

“Obesity is one of the biggest contributors for why healthcare spending has been going up over the past 20 years,” commented Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, a professor of health policy at Emory University in Atlanta, in an article by USA Today.

These results were announced at the CDC´s Weight of the Nation Conference in Washington D.C. on May 7.

“We know more than ever about the most successful strategies that will help Americans live healthier, more active lives and reduce obesity rates and medical costs,” commented William H. Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, in a prepared statement. “People need to make healthy choices, but the healthy choices must first be available and accessible in order to make them. In the coming days at our Weight of the Nation conference, CDC and its partners will emphasize the proven, effective strategies and solutions that must continue to be applied to help make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

On May 8, a list of potential recommendations will be discussed at the CDC conference. A report by the Institute of Medicine titled “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation,” will also be issued and includes a comprehensive review of different obesity prevention-related solutions. The report will target strategies and steps to help increase progress in working on the obesity crisis.

“If nothing is done (about obesity), it’s going to hinder efforts for health care cost containment,” remarked Justin Trogdon, a research economist with non-profit research organization RTI International, in the USA Today article.

According to the National Weight Control Registry, there are many weight-control strategies. For example, people can keep track of their food intake and also exercise by walking an hour a day or participating in other physical activities. It´s also important to remember to eat breakfast regularly and limit eating out to about three times a week. Lastly, the organization advises people to watch fewer than 10 hours of television a week.

Source: Connie K. Ho for RedOrbit.com

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