Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Obesity Raises Health Care Costs for All of Us

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As a nation, we are getting fatter.  And that’s costing all of us lots of money in health care costs.  Those are the simple facts from a new study that shows not a single state decreased obesity rates in the past year.  And, 23 states saw increased rates of obesity.  The report, F as in Fat:  How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2009 , should be a wake up call for all of us.

 “Our health care costs have grown along with our waist lines,” said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of the Trust for America’s Health.  “The obesity epidemic is a big contributor to the skyrocketing health care costs in the United States.”

 No generation is left out.  Baby boomers have a higher rate of obesity than previous generations the study found.  And that will lead to increase costs for Medicare and Medicaid as obesity leads to more severe chronic medical conditions.  Children age 10-17 are also seeing higher rates of obesity.  Habits formed in these years are harder to break with age. 

I remember years ago at Disney World being asked by a European tourist “where do all the fat people come from ?”  I guess now I could honestly answer, “everywhere.”

 We often don’t tie the impact of our health to our wealth.  But not only does it impact health care costs directly, but can impact the cost and availability of other types of insurance like life insurance and long-term care insurance.  Obesity can make you uninsurable.

 So if this is an issue with you or your family.  Think not only about the strain the weight is putting on your body, but also on your pocket book through higher health and insurance costs.

The report recommends a number of federal and state policies that can be promoted to improve healthfulness.  And some of them are things you can do yourself.  So resolve to take a few steps now to reduce obesity:

  • Provide healthy foods and beverages to students at school
  • Increase the availability of affordable health food at home
  • Increase physical activity – frequency and intensity
  • Limit screen time (computer and video games)
  • Take advantage of workplace wellness programs

 If this is an issue in your multigenerational family, make a pact among the generations to change your ways.  It’s much easier to make changes in habits when we hold ourselves responsible to reporting in to someone else on our progress.


Written by Laura Rossman

July 2, 2009 at 2:50 pm

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