Let's face it: the lack of healthy food choices and the lack of exercise are producing serious ramifications. When people continue to engage in behavior that contributes to overweight and obesity it affects everyone directly or indirectly. Among Americans age 20 and older, 142.0 million are overweight or obese. Of these, 67.3 million are obese.

Overweight and obesity related illnesses produce economic, physical and emotion repercussions.

The economic fallout of overweight or obese:

  • Medical costs are beyond $90 billion per year.
  • Treating obesity related diseases accounts for about 9% of all medical spending.
  • Smoking and weight related illness costs are almost even.
  • Approximately half of obesity-attributable cost are paid by Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Obesity cost by limits personal opportunities.
  • In the workplace, costs are borne by employers due to lost productivity, absences, underperformance, and higher insurance premiums.
  • Obesity affects expenditures by local, state, and national governments, where programs compensate for or cover some of the private and workforce costs of illness and unemployment.
  • Each taxpayer is responsible for about $180/yr for obesity-related medical costs for public sector health plans.

The physical consequences of overweight and obesity extend well beyond cosmetic and include well-documented afflictions:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

On the emotional level the symptoms and effects are less obvious, but just as devastating.

  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Inferiority complex
  • Discrimination
  • Relationship challenges

Initiatives to increase awareness and more importantly the implementation of lifestyle alterations conducive to overall health and wellness remain elusive. Government, community and private organizations, schools, employers, health care providers and family must work in concert to keep this issue at the forefront of social consciousness. Every effort must be made to cultivate the aptitude for change in the form of education and implementation. There is a serious disconnect between the millions of overweight and obese Americans and their ability to understand the consequences of their actions.

We must assume the responsibility for our own lifestyle transformations to bring this epidemic under control. Although the numbers indicate current attempts to vanquish overweight and obesity are impervious to our efforts, we must persist, for every obstacle there is a solution, perseverance!

In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest. -Henry Miller


NCHS. Health, United States, 2006


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