Controlling Obesity Could Save Strapped Cities $32 Billion | 01/29/11

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Cities searching for ways to trim the fat and stretch their budget dollars may want to start looking at residents’ waistlines.

A new study suggests that trimming high obesity rates in the nation’s most overweight cities could help local governments save more than $32 billion annually nationwide in associated health care costs.

New information from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows more than 6 in 10 or 62.9% of American adults were either overweight or obese in 2010, slightly more than the 62.2% reported in 2008.

Researchers estimate that direct health care costs associated with obesity are about $50 million each year per 100,000 residents in U.S. cities with the highest obesity rates.

That means if the nation’s 10 most overweight cities -- each with more than a third of its residents classified as obese with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 -- reduced their obesity levels to the 2009 national average of 26.5%, they could collectively save nearly $500 million in health care costs each year.

Obesity Rates Remain High

The 2010 survey of more than 300,000 American adults showed obesity rates nationwide remained essentially unchanged, with 26.5% reported in 2009 and 26.6% in 2010, but higher than the 25.5% reported in 2008. The percentage of Americans classified as overweight with a BMI of 25-29.9 also remained stable at about 36%.

Obesity rates remained highest among African-Americans, with 36% classified as obese in 2010. Low-income and middle-aged adults aged 45 to 64 were also more likely to be obese.

Overall, researchers found obesity levels increased with age until age 65, with a decline in obesity rates thereafter. The groups least likely to be obese include high-income Americans, young adults, and Asian-Americans.

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1 Comment | Leave a comment


So sad when I read the article on WebMd that their recommendations for curbing the cost of obesity and encouraging healthy habits had ZERO suggestions pertaining to eating less meat.

Although the article suggested levying taxes on foods high in sugar, taxing meat products, or better yet, abolishing the subsidizing of the meat and dairy industry would, in my opinion, have a much greater impact, long term on defeating the health and cost crisis of obesity.

Oh well. Still an enlightening article, and I'm grateful to VegSource for continuing to provide great veg and health related articles.

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