Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Obesity Contributes To High Health Care Costs In State

“Oklahoma has the sixth-highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, according to a report by the Robert Wood Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health. About 29.5 percent of Oklahomans are obese, and the rate of obese adults increased in the state for the third year in a row. ‘I don’t think anyone can point to one single answer of why we have health problems,’ said Judy Duncan, director of physical activity and nutrition for Strong and Healthy Oklahoma. ‘It’s a complex question that does not have one single answer. It took a long time for us to get here and change is not going to happen overnight.’ Medical costs associated with obesity are direct and indirect, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Direct medical costs include preventive, diagnostic and treatment services related to obesity. Indirect costs includes morbidity and mortality costs. Oklahoma spends an estimated $854 million annually on obesity-related health care, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Obesity can cause more than 30 chronic health conditions, said Landon Norton, nutrition coordinator for Strong and Healthy Oklahoma. ‘The two biggest things associated with obesity are the financial impact and the health impact,’ he said. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are major health conditions that can develop from obesity. Studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found obesity in early adulthood is associated with both a higher risk and earlier onset of pancreatic cancer. One possible solution to lessen obesity is to focus on wellness. Stanley Hupfeld, president and CEO of Integris Health, said the hospital offers a number of programs that contribute to wellness. ‘The thing about wellness is the payback for wellness is very far in the future,’ he said. ‘If you change your lifestyle today you won’t see the impact of cost for years to come. So you have to believe in wellness.’”

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