Morbid Obesity Causes Health Care Spending Spike

Considering the devastating impact morbid obesity continues to have on the health of Americans, it's not at all surprising to me how this epidemic has hurt all of us in the pocketbook. In fact, health care costs for morbidly obese adults are nearly twice those of people considered to be of normal weight, according to a new study.

Medical expenditures for morbidly obese adults in 2000 were 81 percent more than for normal-weight adults, 65 percent more than overweight adults, and 47 percent more than obese adults.

Nearly 5 million U.S. adults were considered morbidly obese five years ago, bringing health-care spending associated with excess body weight to more than $11 billion. Even worse, $56 billion in U.S. health-care expenditures were linked to excess body weight, a 12 percent increase from 1998.

Just more proof that a sharply growing number of Americans are leading sedentary lives that do nothing but hurt their health. To avoid becoming another statistic of this epidemic, you must start by conquering ED -- exercise deficiency. This means you should shut off the television and get moving.

Most people, especially physicians, don't tend to appreciate how powerful exercise really is. However, you must keep in mind that exercise is like a drug. If you don't use it in the right dosage, it will not work. Many thousands of people have told me they thought they were exercising enough, but they were actually under-dosed.

Most of the two-thirds of the country who are overweight and tens of millions of others with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, desperately need more exercise to control their underlying condition. There simply is not much of a stronger tool to drop your insulin levels than exercise and elevated insulin levels are one of the primary drivers for these types of illnesses.

I urge you to review my exercise guidelines that can help you get started on the right track. If you want to delve more deeply into exercise, review some of the more popular pieces written by contributing editors Paul Chek and Ben Lerner.

EurekAlert February 13, 2005

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