Monday, January 26, 2009

Obesity Epidemic Shows Perils To Health Reform

For years, Bob Clegg's insurance company paid out some $3,000 a month for doctor visits, drugs and medical devices to treat the health problems caused by his obesity. In September 2007, when his weight peaked at 380 pounds (172 kg), he had gastric bypass surgery, and now his health issues -- joint pain, sleep apnea and esophageal problems -- have vanished, and so have the medical bills. But even though the surgery -- in which the stomach is made smaller and part of the intestine is bypassed -- has saved his insurance company money, Clegg, who now weighs 240 pounds (108 kg), had to pay the $20,000 cost out of his own pocket. ‘It wasn't until the doctor said my sleep apnea was at a point where we seriously had to consider a tracheotomy that we talked about gastric bypass,’ said Clegg, 54. ‘The irony is that insurance would pay for the tracheotomy, but not the surgery.’ Clegg's experience highlights the difficulties facing the United States as it confronts an epidemic of obesity, and the problems for President Barack Obama as he sets about extending health insurance to more Americans at a time of runaway costs. While his experience is typical, unlike most other people, Clegg was in a position to make some changes. As a member of New Hampshire's senate, he took what he knew about obesity and the cost of treating related chronic illnesses to the state capitol, where he introduced a bill in January 2008 requiring insurers to offer surgery as a treatment option, just as the state's Medicaid program for the poor does. About two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, putting them at an increased risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems and even some cancers. The direct and indirect costs of obesity is $117 billion each year, according to a 2000 report by the U.S. Surgeon General. Christine Ferguson, associate professor at George Washington University School of Public Health and the director of STOP Obesity Alliance, said the stigma surrounding obesity and belief that it is not a disease are keeping the government from addressing the crisis. ‘If I have to balance my budget at the end of each year, I have a choice between investing money in children who have mental retardation, or children with developmental disabilities ... or investing in people who have obesity, choosing obesity is a very hard case to make,’ she said. Ronald Williams, the chairman and chief executive of health insurer Aetna, said most large employers that it sells policies to have at least one plan that covers bariatric surgery. But, he said, he's more focused on prevention. ‘The bigger end of the story is, How do we help people not become obese to begin with?" he said. ‘If they are suffering the complications from being overweight or obese, how can we help them manage those conditions?’”

1 comment:

Mr.fruitness said...


Among other novelties on the website is the possibility of directly creating characters and adventures involving the superhero, and taking part in a fun quiz to find out what children really think about fruit.

(Ferrara, 14 January 2009). Refreshed and renewed in look and content, the Mr.Fruitness site – featuring the superhero in green tights, testimonial for the three-year “Fruitness enjoy it!”* project – offers its junior friends a fruit-quiz about the role that fruit plays in nutrition. Once they have registered on the site (in five languages: Italian, English, German, Polish and Swedish), children and teenagers from all over Europe can create their own personal logo in peach, pear or kiwi shapes, play with Mr.Fruitness and his magic fruit-team and answer the fruit-quiz together with their parents. The questionnaire will be an invitation for them to give their views on fruit consumption, vote for their favourite fruit and describe what they have learned while navigating on the Mr.Fruitness site. The new quiz is both simple and enjoyable, and is a tool designed to heighten children’s and parents’ awareness of the importance of nutrition and aid parents and adults to think seriously about their purchasing habits.
In recent years the Mr.Fruitness site has won the approval of a notable number of children: a total of over 600,000 contacts have been logged from countries where Mr.Fruitness is active, notably in Germany, Austria, Poland and the United Kingdom.

For further information:

Elena Vincenzi Press Office “Fruitness, enjoy it!” c/o Fruitecom +39 059-7863894
Alessandra Ravaioli CSO – Centro Servizi Ortofrutticoli S.c.a.r.l. +39 0532-904511

*“Fruitness enjoy it” is a three-year campaign for the promotion of healthier eating habits, which aims to educate children and raise awareness about fruit and the role it plays in preventing child obesity. Directed at children in the United Kingdom, Poland, Austria, Sweden and Germany, the campaign is financed by the European Commission, Agea (the Agricultural Payment Agency) and CSO, for a combined value of 4 million euros. It will consist of a targeted and integrated programme of activities dedicated to promoting the consumption of EU fruits, by providing information about their intrinsic characteristics in terms of nutritional quality, safety and health benefits. For more information: