Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Childhood Obesity Costs

Obesity Related Health Care Costs are Soaring

Americans spend about 9% of their total medical costs on obesity-related illnesses, [1] and that amount will only increase if the current trends continue.

High personal costs: Severely overweight people spend more on health care and medicine. In fact, they often spend more on health care than current smokers. [2]

Direct national cost: The direct costs of treating obesity-related diseases are estimated at $61 billion. [3]

Indirect national cost: The indirect costs of obesity (such as missed work days and future earnings losses) have been estimated at $56 billion dollars per year. [3]

Rising disability claims: Being severely overweight makes it much harder to manage basic activities like bathing, dressing and getting out of bed. The number of people filing for disability is rising rapidly, and the fastest growing cause of disability is type 2 diabetes. [4]

Economic Disparities

Childhood obesity is having a larger impact on children from low-income families.

Poor health care: Over 1.6 million children were unable to get needed medical care because the family could not afford it. Medical care for an additional 3 million children was delayed because of worry about the cost. [32]

Limited access: In part because they lack access to healthy food and sports facilities, children from lower incomes are more likely to be overweight or obese. [33]

Fewer opportunities to stay healthy: In a study of 200 neighborhoods, there were three times as many supermarkets in wealthy neighborhoods as in poor neighborhoods [34] leaving fast food restaurants as the most convenient meal option for many low income families.

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