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Overweight and obesity levels in the country are at an epidemic proportion. Obesity in America is rated as the most rapidly growing and widespread health crisis. The accompanied economic costs for obesity are staggering and permeate all sectors of the society. This excerpt explores the health problems and health costs of these conditions.
Obesity and Health Costs
The health consequences of being overweight or obese are many and varied. This range from the increased risk of dying prematurely to the several conditions although non-fatal are debilitating as well as the accompanied psychological complaints that have an adverse effect on the individual's quality of life. The main health problems associated with these conditions include: type 2 diabetes ( research indicates that 88%-97% of type 2 diabetes diagnosed in people who are overweight is directly linked to obesity); respiratory diseases/ sleep apnea syndrome; cardiovascular diseases (half of overweight and obese individuals are likely to have blood cholesterol that is elevated increasing the risk of a heart attack, obesity is also a leading cause of congestive heart failure where the heart muscles weaken to a point where they are not able to pump blood, this is usually fatal); osteoarthritis; some cancers (breast, prostrate endometrial and colon); psychological problems (eating disorders, depression, distorted body image as well as low self esteem) as well as the alteration of the individual's quality of life. Most these are adverse medical conditions which have extraordinary economic costs (EUFIC).
Statistics indicate that around 30 percent of the American population is Obese with the resulting cost of this obesity and overweight totaling 270 billion dollars annually. Most of this money is spent on offsetting the increased need for medical care, loss of productivity as a result of total disability, loss of the workers' productivity as death rates increase and cost of disability of workers who were active. According to Dor et al. (2010), the cost of being overweight for women is 524 dollars and for men it is 432 dollars, these costs go up to 4,879 dollars and 2,646 dollars for men with the extra pounds that qualify one as obese. Adding the shortened life span to this places the annual cost at 8,365 dollars for women and 6,518 dollars for men.
The medical problems and health costs associated with obesity and overweight are numerous. However, it should be noted that this conditions are preventable. It is therefore up to us to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle which is a simple solution for what is turning out to be a national crisis.