The True Cost of the Obesity Epidemic
Obesity is an epidemic that continues to spread. Even though the Centers for Disease Control, state governments and the federal government are developing efforts to combat this problem, the number of obese people continues to rise. Consumers in the United States spend an average of $46 billion dollars each year on diet books, exercise equipment and self-help books. This is an outrageous amount of money and yet the problem is on the rise. In addition, the problems with obesity are costly to the American public.
Many obese people file disability claims due to illnesses associated with obesity. Currently, obesity and related illnesses cost the US taxpayers $76 billion dollars each year. This amount includes medical costs and disability payments. People who suffer from this devastating disease and do not have insurance cost the state and federal governments billions of dollars in medical care. In addition, Americans who do have insurance continue to pay higher insurance premiums because of the high claims filed by people who suffer with this disease.
This growing problem has states struggling to keep funding for special services to help people meet their medical needs along with providing affordable housing for people who can no longer work due to the complication of obesity. The medical services states provide such as free clinics and hospital services are stretched to the point that states can no longer afford to support these services. Many states are struggling with dwindling budgets and must make difficult choices to cut state funded programs.
School systems across the country are cutting back on school sports programs because they do not have enough money in the budget to fund these programs. This is in part because many schools must spend a tremendous amount of money to buy larger desks and equipment for obese children, obesity prevention programs and new healthy meal plans. Cutting school sports programs will only contribute to the growing number of obese children in the United States and is just another of a growing list of problems with obesity.
Corporations are also spending billions of dollars each year because of problems associated with obesity. Many corporations pay the full cost of employee health insurance. However, due to rising premiums, many corporations pass on the cost to employees. Corporations spend billions of dollars each year providing accommodations for obese employees. This includes parking spaces, sick days, and loss of production due to medical leave and workspace modifications.
Grocery stores and many retailers also spend millions of dollars to accommodate people who suffer from obesity. One motorized shopping vehicles with attached shopping basket costs $7,000 to $10,000. When these vehicles were first introduced, each grocery store may have had one or two that were originally for senior citizens. Now, stores may have to maintain five or six of these vehicles. The cost is passed on to the consumer through higher food prices.
The obesity epidemic is out of control and is growing exponentially. In spite of efforts to educate the public, the poor eating habits of Americans have changed very little. The fast food industry continues to flourish and even though the industry offers healthy alternatives, their biggest sellers are still the high fat and high calories foods. The average size of a woman in the United States is size 16. In the 1970s, the average size of a woman was size 8.
More 17% of the children in the United States are obese. This number is expected to grow. Childhood diabetes is also rising proportionately. Children as young as 15 years old have suffered heart attacks. As these obese children grow older, their health issues will escalate. If the epidemic continues to grow, the cost to tax payers will double over previous years. Medical care for obese children and the diseases associated with obesity continue to increase in cost. Many of these children will struggle with obesity for the rest of their lives. It is difficult to overcome the poor eating habits that person was taught as a child.
Obesity is a costly and tragic disease. Million of Americans struggle with the battle of the bulge. Sadly, many fail and pass on poor eating habits and unhealthy lifestyles to their children. The number of obese and over weight people will continue to grow. The obesity epidemic is spreading and problems with obesity are growing at alarming rates.
The costs associated with this epidemic will increase exponentially, costing the American taxpayer and the government billions of dollars each year. Obesity is the most serious health issue this country faces. The medical costs for obesity exceed the costs associated with smoking. The anti-smoking campaign is effective, as the number of smokers in the United States has decreased significantly. A similar campaign may help fight the growing obesity epidemic.