Can We Afford Bad Health?

  1. Health Leaders Comment

    By John McDougall, M.D., for HealthLeaders News, Jan. 23, 2003

    Nearly two-thirds of residents of United States are overweight, and since 1991 the incidence of obesity has risen from 12 percent to more than 25 percent. Obesity-related diseases, like type II diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer are consuming most of our healthcare dollars. Spending on hospital and outpatient care is 36 percent higher and medication costs are 77 percent higher for obese people than for people in the normal weight range.

    Obesity has the same impact on chronic health conditions as does 20 years of aging; which exceeds the impact of smoking or problem drinking. Presently, each year, 300,000 deaths are attributed to obesity, and this epidemic costs our country $118 billion.

    Try to imagine what will happen to healthcare expenditures over the next three to five years when many of those who are now simply overweight become diabetic? And in five to 10 more years when these diabetics develop kidney failure necessitating dialysis, and coronary artery disease requiring acute hospitalizations and heart surgery? Over the next five or ten years, costs will skyrocket to the point at which no one will be able to afford health insurance under the present model. Can we stop what appears to be an inevitable rise to "unaffordable healthcare for everyone?"

    I believe the answer is yes - but not unless we change our focus of effort. Higher premiums, fewer benefits, lower physician reimbursements, more doctors, drugs, and hospitals have not been, and never will be, the answers.

    The only effective and permanent solution to our healthcare crisis is to reduce the commodity: sick people.

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  3. by   renerian
    Good article Karen. Thanks for posting it.

  4. by   sjoe
    Prevention--the only real remedy, but of course the last one to receive any funding.
  5. by   researchrabbit
    What I don't understand is why most of the offerings in the hospital cafeteria are high-fat, high-salt, and high-calories.

    If I don't bring my lunch, there is only the salad bar as a healthy choice, and you have to get there early or it's gone.
  6. by   oramar
    There is supposedly an epidemic of premature births. Just wonder if there is a connection between obesity and diabetes and premature births. My first thought was that all the homones they pump into our food supply and all the chemicals that are in our enviroment were the cause. However, my second thought was that it may well be connected to something as simple as the increase in average weight.
  7. by   sjoe
    "If I don't bring my lunch, there is only the salad bar as a healthy choice, and you have to get there early or it's gone."

    Where ELSE would a rabbit eat but at a salad bar?

    Guess you'll have to end your coffee break a bit sooner so you can get to the cafeteria on time.