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An Obese 50-Year-Old Can Cost American Society Over $36,000 A Year


Photo by: CGP Grey via Wikimedia Commons

A new computer modeling estimated that although with normal blood pressure and cholesterol level, a 50-year-old obese person could cost taxpayers $36,000 in medical care and lost salaries.The figure shows that a person's obesity weighs down on everybody.

Since obesity is a contributor to several chronic health conditions, such as heart ailments, diabetes, and certain cancers, being overweight ultimately increases the health insurance premiums of everyone, Dr.Bruce Lee, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said.

Affects Wallet Too

Since the overweight person pays insurance premiums and the copays, and if the person’s productivity is reduced, it would also affect his finances, Lee said.  Almost two-thirds of the lifetime cost to society could be avoided if an obese 20-year-old loses enough weight, he added.

Weight loss is cost-savings at any age, he explained, because if a healthy but obese 70-year-old would shed some pounds and step down to just overweight level, the lifetime cost to society would only be about 40 percent, CBS reported.

By documenting the cost of untreated obesity, the research affects the bulk or two-thirds of adults in the US, who are obese or overweight, Ted Kyle, the spokesperson of the Obesity Society, said.Most of them usually just get casual advice from their doctors to exercise and eat better.

He pushed for behavior modification, which is what the Diabetes Prevention Program is doing.The program involves intensive counseling also on diet and exercise, following a large US study that discovered the risk of type 2 diabetes among adults, who were overweight and at risk, was reduced through a modest amount of weight loss.

Help That Is Effective

The casual advice on physical activity and diet is an indicator that most people do not get the kind of help that research has shown to be effective, Kyle said.He pointed out that to most people, they are aware that they need to change their diet and exercise.

Most obese people need more intensive help with changing their diet and exercise and other deeply entrenched bad habits.In the case of losing weight, which is a major challenge, the biggest one is aiming for permanent weight loss, not yo-yo dieting. “There are no overnight solutions … It takes long-term changes in diet and physical activity.And for some people medication or surgery are appropriate,” Lee noted.

Computer Modeling

The computer modeling that Lee used to estimate the lifetime medical costs and lost productivity of obese individuals at different ages was done using data pulled from several large US health studies.The research was used to gauge the people’s odds of developing various ailments over a lifetime.The range was from $17,000 to $36,000, depending on the age, with 50 as the most expensive and 80 the least.

People who are 50 years old and above comprise more than 60 percent of the incremental cost of society, including higher taxes to support government insurance, higher copays, and other out-of-pocket expenses.Saeideh Fallah-Fini, a former visiting scholar who was part of the research team, said the research took into account immediate health complications linked with excess body weight, such as hypertension and diabetes.

Kyle stressed that it is an important study because it showed how costly obesity can be if not treated. “It’s not about weight and appearance.It’s about your health,” he said.

The direct medical cost of having overweight or obese adults in the US is almost $210 billion a year, the study, published the Obesity journal, said.

Obese Kids

Meanwhile, Healio reported that children with obesity and who have a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness have a lower cardiometabolic risk and less insulin resistance compared with kids who are not fit.Christine Delisle Nystrom, a nutritionist and doctoral student at the Department of Bioscience and Nutrition at the Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden, wrote in a new study that in children and adolescents, evidence about the fat-but-fit paradox is inconsistent.

Photo by: Lorrie Graham/AusAID via Wikimedia Commons

These are individuals considered obese but have moderate to high cardiorespiratory fitness.Evidence indicates that for fat-but-fit adults, they do not have a significantly higher risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases than normal-weight but unfit adults.They reached that conclusion after an analysis of pooled, cross-sectional data from three Spanish studies.

The three research involved 1,247 children aged 8 to 11 who provided the blood samples.The researchers, meantime, calculated their two cardiometabolic risk scores based on gender- and age-specific z scores for triglycerides, HDL cholesterol glucose, the average of systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and homeostatic model assignment of insulin resistance.

Nystrom observed that obesity treatment is focused largely on energy restriction, which is especially difficult to implement in children.She said physical activity should be promoted to boost cardiorespiratory fitness from an early age, which should be incorporated into childhood obesity treatment programs.


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