Report Calls Obesity Fastest Growing Challenge to Nation's Health Care
According to a recently released report, obesity is the fastest-growing challenge to American health care and its costs. If current trends continue, obesity-related health problems are predicted to account for 21 percent of health care spending by 2018.
Previous studies have tracked the cost of treating obesity-related health costs, but this is the first time an advanced economic model has been used to project ten years into the future, using data collected through the end of 2008.
At current rates, the report predicts that 103 million Americans, about 43 percent of total population, will be obese by 2018. The annual cost of obesity-related health care in that year is predicted to be $344 billion.
Obesity, as defined by the report, is 30 pounds or more over healthy weight. Health problems that can be caused by obesity include diabetes, heart disease, and many forms of cancer. If obesity could be held at current rates, the report says the annual health care cost savings would be nearly $200 billion by 2018, or $820 per person.
The report was published as a joint project of United Health Foundation (UHF), American Public Health Association, and Partnership for Prevention, and can be viewed at UHF's America's Health Rankings Web site. It is based on research by Kenneth E. Thorpe, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Emory University and executive director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.
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