Monday, August 17, 2009

Obesity Could Cost Texas $15.6 Billion Next Year

“Obesity is the elephant in the room of health care reform, a public health catastrophe that kills well over 100,000 Americans a year, may cost Texas $15.6 billion next year in health care costs and lost productivity, and promises to shorten U.S. life expectancy for the first time since the Civil War. Whatever Washington does this year to try to lower medical spending almost certainly will be swamped by the nation's rising weight. Every third child born in 2000 is likely to wind up diabetic. Obesity strikes hardest at the poor and minorities; black women are nearly 40 percent more likely to contract heart disease than white women. Two out of three adults are overweight in Texas and nationwide. ‘Rising obesity rates are increasing health care expenditures per person in a way that is going to be very difficult to finance,’ said Jay Bhattacharya, a doctor and health economist at Stanford University's Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research. ‘Unless there is some vast improvement in the efficiency of the health care system — and I mean vast — we're going to be spending a lot more just because a lot more people will have diabetes’ and other obesity related diseases. Prevention is the only cure. If obesity-prevention efforts are not implemented, Texas will have more than 15 million obese adults by 2040, according to projections by Texas State Demographer Karl Eschbach. Yet while health care legislation in Congress would raise spending on prevention of chronic disease, it does little to tackle the underlying obesity epidemic directly. In fact, most of the bills are silent on what many health professionals contend would be one of the most effective weapons: a tax on soda."

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