A report released by Reuters today reveals that the number one healthcare cost in America has been superseded – obesity now costs more than smoking. The price tag for obesity in American is an astounding $190 billion.
Hospitals are being forced to install floor-mounted toilets in lieu of the wall-mounted versions to accommodate the growing number of obese patients, while the Federal Transit Association has begun testing buses that are better equipped to handle breaking and steering with heavier passengers.
In January, a study published in the Journal of Health Economics, observed that obese men cost an average of $1,152 in medical spending each year, while obese women cost around $3,613 annually. The study compared 9,852 men and 13,837 women, 28 percent of whom were obese, and determined that obese individuals who are uninsured rack up $3,271 each year in medical costs compared the $512 a year of a non-obese individual. That is a lot of money for taxpayers to shell out for a population, where one-third of all adults are obese.
The Affordable Care Act has plans to address this obesity crisis by offering companies the option to charge obese employees 30 to 50 percent more toward their healthcare premiums, if they refuse to actively participate in a qualified wellness program to help them lose weight.
This is good news for everyone – many companies are beginning to make appealing wellness programs part of their benefits package. The preventive health lifestyle is very slowly becoming part of the American workplace. And, a new study out of Harvard Medical School in Boston at the beginning of April 2012, found that a majority of obese individuals, who participate in a weight-loss program, lose as much as 10 percent of their body fat over the course of one year. Only 5 percent of body fat was lost by obese individuals who sought to tackle the problem on their own by reducing fat in their diet, exercising more and popping prescription weight loss medications. Less weight was also lost by those who turned to fad diets, weight loss supplements and purchasing popular products that promise fast weight loss results.
The study, due to be published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in May 2012, linked the structured format of weight loss programs to the higher rate of success among participants. The researchers of the study hope to deliver the message to Americans that the pills and other “quick-fix” methods are not the way to find success.
These findings make the quest to live a preventive health lifestyle, not only important for lifelong well-being, but for the health of your pocketbook and the pocketbook of every taxpayer in America.