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The Cost of the Obesity Epidemic is Soaring, Effecting Us All

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posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 02:13 AM
This is an eye opener. Obviously most are aware the obese are the cause of higher prices in various parts of the economy, but not to this extent. This is becoming a huge problem(no pun intended) and something which is not going away anytime soon. Let me first point out I believe everyone has a right to live how they wish and I hate government interference. However, everyone's right to live how they wish only goes to a certain point, and that point in my opinion is when it starts directly effecting the lives of others or others are left to pick up the tab. At that point you are no longer simply living the way you choose to live but instead thinking your right to live the way you choose trumps the rights of others to live their lives without you taking their hard earned money.

U.S. hospitals are ripping out wall-mounted toilets and replacing them with floor models to better support obese patients. The Federal Transit Administration wants buses to be tested for the impact of heavier riders on steering and braking. Cars are burning nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than if passengers weighed what they did in 1960.

The nation's rising rate of obesity has been well-chronicled. But businesses, governments and individuals are only now coming to grips with the costs of those extra pounds, many of which are even greater than believed only a few years ago: The additional medical spending due to obesity is double previous estimates and exceeds even those of smoking, a new study shows.

I was not aware additional medical spending due to obesity now exceeds those of smoking. That caught me off guard. The fact I pay higher health insurance premiums due to the rising obesity levels is something I am aware of and am not at all happy about, nor have I ever been.I have no problem helping others when it comes to emergencies or an accident at a bad time. I do have a problem paying for others chosen lifestyles(discounting the 2-3% who suffer from thyroid issues which is usually a completely overblown excuse for this epidemic).

The percentage of Americans who are obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher) has tripled since 1960, to 34 percent, while the incidence of extreme or "morbid" obesity (BMI above 40) has risen sixfold, to 6 percent. The percentage of overweight Americans (BMI of 25 to 29.9) has held steady: It was 34 percent in 2008 and 32 percent in 1961. What seems to have happened is that for every healthy-weight person who "graduated" into overweight, an overweight person graduated into obesity.

Because obesity raises the risk of a host of medical conditions, from heart disease to chronic pain, the obese are absent from work more often than people of healthy weight. The most obese men take 5.9 more sick days a year; the most obese women, 9.4 days more. Obesity-related absenteeism costs employers as m u ch as $6.4 billion a year, health economists led by Eric Finkelstein of Duke University calculated.

I had not seen figures this high before and found them to be shocking. In this economy that is a huge hit to employers, as well as somewhat disrespectful towards the colleagues and coworkers who are healthy and work to maintain a healthy lifestyle but instead find themselves having to pick up the slack for their obese colleagues who aren't there as often or are battling obesity related health issues which lessens productivity.

The medical costs of obesity have long been the focus of health economists. A just-published analysis finds that it raises those costs more than thought.

Obese men rack up an additional $1,152 a year in medical spending, especially for hospitalizations and prescription drugs, Cawley and Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh University reported in January in the Journal of Health Economics. Obese women account for an extra $3,613 a year. Using data from 9,852 men (average BMI: 28) and 13,837 women (average BMI: 27) ages 20 to 64, among whom 28 percent were obese, the researchers found even higher costs among the uninsured: annual medical spending for an obese person was $3,271 compared with $512 for the non-obese.

Nationally, that comes to $190 billion a year in additional medical spending as a result of obesity, calculated Cawley, or 20.6 percent of U.S. health care expenditures.

That is double recent estimates, reflecting more precise methodology.

$190 billion per year in additional medical spending? That is alarming and effects every one of us. I am also glad they make a distinction between the obese and merely overweight, as everyone due to various reasons at times might put on an extra 10-20 pounds.


edit on 4-7-2012 by MysticPearl because: (no reason given)

edit on Wed Jul 4 2012 by DontTreadOnMe because: IMPORTANT: Using Content From Other Websites on ATS

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 02:15 AM

Contrary to the media's idealization of slimness, medical spending for men is about the same for BMIs of 26 to 35. For women, the uptick starts at a BMI of 25. In men more than women, high BMIs can reflect extra muscle as well as fat, so it is possible to be healthy even with an overweight BMI. "A man with a BMI of 28 might be very fit," said Cawley. "Where healthcare costs really take off is in the morbidly obese."

Those extra medical costs are partly born by the non-obese, in the form of higher taxes to support Medicaid and higher health insurance premiums. Obese women raise such "third party" expenditures $3,220 a year each; obese men, $967 a year, Cawley and Meyerhoefer found.

One recent surprise is the discovery that the costs of obesity exceed those of smoking. In a paper published in March, scientists at the Mayo Clinic toted up the exact medical costs of 30,529 Mayo employees, adult dependents, and retirees over several years.

"Smoking added about 20 percent a year to medical costs," said Mayo's James Naessens. "Obesity was similar, but morbid obesity increased those costs by 50 percent a year. There really is an economic justification for employers to offer programs to help the very obese lose weight."

Again, I'm happy to see the distinction between overweight and obese, as well as only considering BMI, where if you're a muscular male or female, yet still have a relatively low or healthy body fat %, you're BMI will tend to be a little higher. Lebron James has a higher BMI than average but obviously is extremely healthy, just muscular and all weight is not equal.

I still am shocked the cost of obesity has already passed the cost of smoking. Did not think it would happen so soon.

Some costs of obesity reflect basic physics. It requires twice as much energy to move 250 pounds than 125 pounds. As a result, a vehicle burns more gasoline carrying heavier passengers than lighter ones.

"Growing obesity rates increase fuel consumption," said engineer Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois. How much? An additional 938 million gallons of gasoline each year due to overweight and obesity in the United States, or 0.8 percent, he calculated. That's $4 billion extra.

Not all the changes spurred by the prevalence of obesity come with a price tag. Train cars New Jersey Transit ordered from Bombardier have seats 2.2 inches wider than current cars, at 19.75 inches, said spokesman John Durso, giving everyone a more comfortable commute. (There will also be more seats per car because the new ones are double-deckers.)

The built environment generally is changing to accommodate larger Americans. New York's commuter trains are considering new cars with seats able to hold 400 pounds. Blue Bird is widening the front doors on its school buses so wider kids can fit. And at both the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, seats are wider than their predecessors by 1 to 2 inches.

The new performance testing proposed by transit officials for buses, assuming an average passenger weight of 175 instead of 150 pounds, arise from concerns that heavier passengers might pose a safety threat. If too much weight is behind the rear axle, a bus can lose steering. And every additional pound increases a moving vehicle's momentum, requiring more force to stop and thereby putting greater demands on brakes. Manufacturers have told the FTA the proposal will require them to upgrade several components.

Hospitals, too, are adapting to larger patients. The University of Alabama at Birmingham's hospital, the nation's fourth largest, has widened doors, replaced wall-mounted toilets with floor models able to hold 250 pounds or more, and bought plus-size wheelchairs (twice the price of regulars) as well as mini-cranes to hoist obese patients out of bed.

$4 billion extra per year in gasoline consumption due to obesity? Holy moly, that's a lot. That also probably doesn't include higher prices of airplane tickets, and what at some point will be higher prices to ride public transportation or higher prices at the pump due to less availability. The fact that the breaks on buses will need new components, doors are being widened and toilets are having to be replaced is something I did not think I'd see in my lifetime.

This kind of a problem is not simply due to thyroid issues or eating desert every night. This mainly, and I say mainly as there are exceptions and serious conditions out there which do lend itself to obesity, but mainly this is a lifestyle issue. It's been shown on ATS by myself and others it is completely possible to feed a family of four a healthy meal for no more than the cost of four value meals at a fastfood restaurant. This leads me to believe convenience and education are a huge part of the problem. Technology isn't helping either as you can be entertained without leaving your chair or coach for hours on end.

This is not to point fingers but instead to raise awareness of a problem effecting us all, and a problem which will only continue to grow until we come up with an answer. One thing is clear though, and that is that the current plan of attack is not working. I can do my part to stay healthy which I do and you can do yours, but the burden of sky rocketing prices if falling on myself and all of you. This isn't a rights issue when the lifestyle of others is effecting people not connected. I have a right not to pay more simply because someone else wants to live a certain lifestyle. But more importantly, the health of this nation is going down the toilet. It has to change.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 03:05 AM
To know that the cost of medicinal expenditure for obesity has overtaken smoking is very surprising news to me.

During my senior year in high school I worked at a McDonald's and a Taco Bell simultaneously, and I do not mean to stereotype although I am generalizing, around I would say 35% to half of all customers were overweight. And out of those, half of them were "regular" customers. Being one of the "cooks" I can tell you that that "food" is not contributing to a solution to this epidemic. With that said, I really blame the parents on this one. I saw numerous times little children (who weren't so little) who would go up and order/buy whatever they please without their parents around. When those kids go on to have kids, it turns into a vicious cycle.

If people want to mistreat their bodies and not stay in shape, that's their business not mine. But it isn't my fault that their health is at risk, and it certainly isn't my responsibility to pay for certain things that ascertain to overweight people (like the article mentioned the toilets and the buses).

Some of those statistics are just flat-out shocking. I NEVER would have guessed that obesity would have near as much of an impact as it has. I'm almost at a loss for words, and as you said OP, there needs to be a change. I stay in shape, I'm very physically fit (but then again, I'm a teenager who played sports all through high school, my metabolism is through the roof), and I wish others would do the same. There is NOTHING better than the clean-high that running, working out, or even jogging/walking will do for you.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 03:25 AM
reply to post by RomeByFire
Food stamps that can be bartered for cash, electronic gadgets and video games.

I'm glad we can get a teenagers perspective on this.

I was born in 1963, my children and grandchildren aren't obese, but we make a conscious decision to be outside and not buy junk food.

It's very hard to let your children go outside and play, even when you live in a small town, due to the possibility that they could be taken - without a clue - by the many sick perverts that are out there. I grew up where I was able to leave in the a.m. and play all day outside as an 8 year-old -- I find it impossible to let my 10 year old granddaughter leave the house, except to go around the block, due to the possibilty of her being stolen. I live in WI where a child was raped and killed while trick and treating in a small town. The Turner law was made due to this horrible crime.

Please, I'd like to hear your opinion on these matters. Thanks.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 03:33 AM
One thing i could never work out with food induced obesity,
How can people afford to eat so much.?
II feel like i have been ripped off just buying an iced coffee ,so usually refuse to buy any takeaway food out of spite.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 05:48 AM
reply to post by MysticPearl

As the greedy baby boomers hit retirement age in full force obeseity is going up obviously. They're the problem in our economy. Excessive, fat, lazy, made men and women that blame others for the countries problems. These are the people that are far from starvation yet complain about taxes, wellfare, and just about everything else every chance they get.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 11:04 AM
reply to post by Happy1

It's very hard to let your children go outside and play, even when you live in a small town, due to the possibility that they could be taken - without a clue - by the many sick perverts that are out there. I grew up where I was able to leave in the a.m. and play all day outside as an 8 year-old -- I find it impossible to let my 10 year old granddaughter leave the house, except to go around the block, due to the possibilty of her being stolen. I live in WI where a child was raped and killed while trick and treating in a small town. The Turner law was made due to this horrible crime.
I agree as kids the hubby and I roamed our city all day long and no one ever bothered us. By the time we were teenagers though our town had the highest murder rate in the nation, Gary, IN. So we got street wise real fast.

We exercised all day either playing or working for money.

We moved to the country where we raised our kids, they had the run of the place. The little nearby town is still pretty safe so kids are everywhere. The problem for some is when the kids grow up and move away they're not very street wise, more than a few have become victims of horrible crimes.

These days some places simply aren't child-friendly. Apparently some kids aren't even safe in their own bedrooms. It's a sad state and imo it's deterring kids from getting the exercise they need, it's up to mom/dad to pick up the slack. Tough time for parents.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 11:07 AM
Well stop putting so much crap in our foods, and make healthy foods a whole lot cheaper to get, and maybe people wouldn't be so fat.

And stop scapegoating fat people.

This whole health food industry is a scam to make money.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 11:10 AM
No worries!

Obama care was ruled constitutional so it won't affect you anymore!

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 11:33 AM
There is so much garbage food out there!
I think part of the problem is the convienance of it. "Fast Food" made with little thought and a lot of grease.
I have a hard time understanding how someone could eat out everyday. At least when you cook at home you will know what is going into your food to some extent (excluding hormones, pesticides, etc). And it is a lot cheaper actually.

People are too lazy to cook!
I-pads have sadly replaced tree climbing, making mud pies, riding bikes also. I am glad I grew up before the digital generation. Im 21.

This reminds me of a news article I read the other day, where one mom fed her daughter chicken nuggets for breakfast lunch and dinner for years....Then the kid became gravely ill and guess who's fault it was...McDonalds!

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 02:17 PM
reply to post by llmacgregor
You are so right. I avoid restaurants like the plague. The servings are way too big and full of fat. I worked in food service for years. I finally gave it up after seeing too many unsafe practices.
Just think "kitchen nightmares." The sad fact is all those restaurants on the show are operational so they passed health inspection, which imo is an absolute joke.

I do think some kids are cutting down on outdoor activities because of safety issues, adults are impacted too. Runners/hikers are being attacked on trails, some neighborhoods aren't safe enough to ride a bike or even go for a walk. After living in Gary I know how bad it can be. If it wasn't for my backyard garden and exercising indoors I wouldn't have gotten much daily exercise at all.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 02:23 PM
Yes is true, Obesity is a growing health epidemic in the US, now public and many private entities that offer services to the population have to accommodate for the growing weight of the people.

No, please do not blame the personal choices for this epidemic, what is causing Americans to be infected with the obesity epidemic, is unrestricted food propaganda, lack of proper nutritional education and the reality that unhealthy foods can be addictive.

The food industry is the one that have created the epidemic that now many Americans are suffering.

By the time people understand what is killing them and that is not actually truly their fault the disease already have robbed them of their quality of life.

But is never too late to get cured.
edit on 4-7-2012 by marg6043 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 02:54 PM
It really is getting the be an overwhelming problem.

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 03:15 PM
reply to post by MysticPearl

Part of your OP really stood out for me, it was this:

However, everyone's right to live how they wish only goes to a certain point, and that point in my opinion is when it starts directly effecting the lives of others or others are left to pick up the tab. At that point you are no longer simply living the way you choose to live but instead thinking your right to live the way you choose trumps the rights of others to live their lives without you taking their hard earned money.
By saying that an individual has no right to do anything that might increase his health care costs at some point in the future, you are taking a step that I can't agree with. And why isn't the corollary true, that an individual must do everything that might lower his health care costs in the future?

I think I understand your frustration, but I'm not sure I buy your argument.
edit on 4-7-2012 by charles1952 because: fix typos

posted on Jul, 4 2012 @ 03:19 PM
do't forget diabetes and hyper tension

6 year olds are getting their blood pressure checked


posted on Jul, 5 2012 @ 12:41 AM
reply to post by RomeByFire

I agree with all you said, and I really don't know what the answer should be. I also do think a lot is parenting, self control and not being educated on the issue.

I know what you mean about feeling great after working out, but we can't exactly force everyone to exercise, as much as I would like to.

posted on Jul, 5 2012 @ 12:46 AM
reply to post by charles1952

No, I just prefer not picking up the tab for other peoples chosen lifestyle, at an increasing rate which is effecting multiple industries. It's a slippery-slope, and obviously many have their vices which effect their health negatively in one way or another.

But this is getting to be above and beyond anything else, and we cannot continue down the road we are on where obesity is out of control and healthy people are being forced to pay higher premiums, among other things. At the minimum an obese person should automatically have a higher premium in relation to others, just as smokers do.

posted on Jul, 5 2012 @ 01:07 AM
It's all a lie!!! Total lies. Think about this....

first anything you hear in main stream media that is controversial then it's basically propaganda. So if they say pot causes cancer then infact it cures it. Whatever they say you look into what the opposite is. Google it. You'll find some evidence showing that infact the opposite is true.

So with fat people. I'm not even fat or anything so no agenda here. But back say 500 yrs ago that would be considered super sexy and very healthy to be plump. That meant you were rich, and also in good health. If you were skinny, and frail that meant that you were not sexy but sickly and poor because you couldn't afford to eat properly or regularly enough.

We're surrounded by endless propaganda. Now it's the war on fat. When fat infact is a sign of good health. No anything main stream media says' it's usually the opposite that's the real truth.

posted on Jul, 5 2012 @ 01:48 AM
reply to post by Happy1

There's just one tiny thing here:

Not everyone who gets food stamps barters them!

I can tell you're an old fart due to your stereotypical views of people on public assistance.

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