Thursday, July 9, 2009

Economic Toll Of Obesity And Inactivity Exceeds $41 Billion In California

“The excess weight and inactive habits of many Californians don't only exact a personal toll, they're saddling businesses and taxpayers with more than $41 billion in annual costs, according to a report released today. ‘We think mostly about the health implications,’ said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, speaking of the 59 percent of Californians who are obese or overweight, and the 48 percent who are physically inactive. ‘But there's also this enormous burden on the already-burdened California economy,’ said Goldstein, whose center released the data. If the trend continues the economic toll of excess weight and inactivity will rise to $52.7 billion in 2011, the report noted. Half the costs were attributed to health care expenses, and half to lost productivity, such as absenteeism. The figures alarm state Controller John Chiang, who is grappling with California's devastating $26.3 billion budget shortfall this fiscal year. ‘These figures demonstrate the real and very unsettling financial impact of the obesity epidemic on a California economy already in crisis,’ he said. ‘We need to stop unnecessary use of precious dollars in this area as quickly as possible.’ ‘The idea of health being a priority and not an afterthought hasn't been on the agenda,’ Goldstein said. And the national debate over health care reform needs to include prevention as a primary tactic for controlling costs, he said. ‘This is the cutting-edge of health care,’ he said. ‘Make prevention and wellness the cornerstone of a new national health care system.’

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