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Based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) criteria, 35.7 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 74 are obese. So if you threw a party and invited 100 random people, 35 of them would likely fit this profile. And here’s a sobering fact: If you had thrown that party in 1962, only 13 or 14 people would have fit the bill.
What makes a person “obese?” According to the CDC, obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. The BMI is calculated by looking at your weight in relation to your height.
The causes of obesity are not always easy to nail down. For some people, it’s simply eating too much and not exercising enough. For others, however, the causes may be genetic or are spurred by a complex of medical and/or mental health issues.
Medical Care and Treatment: It Adds Up
It’s not surprising, then, that an affliction that currently affects one third of the adult population is going to take its toll on various economic systems, since the medical community is dedicated to helping overweight patients alleviate the effects of being overweight. “There are some significant economic costs associated with obesity,” says Ross Hammond, of the Brookings Institution, as quoted as saying on Bloomberg.com. “It’s not an outcome that’s rare anymore.”
In 2010, obesity increased medical care costs in the United States by $315.8 billion, according to Cornell University research—that’s about $3,508 annually for each overweight patient. This represents an increase of 48% over the previous five-year period.
Beyond Doctor Visits and Hospital Stays
According to a McKinsey study, the total cost of obesity in America—which includes those for medical care—is about $450 billion annually. Some of the costs that inform this estimate include:
There’s no one answer that will solve America’s obesity epidemic. While regular exercise and a great diet may work well for one person, someone else may need to take additional measures or seek medical intervention to win the battle of the bulge. But no matter what causes obesity, one thing’s for sure: A medically approved, regularly scheduled and monitored exercise plan, along with a focus on nutrition, can do wonders for a person’s health, mental well-being, and outlook—and also contribute to weight loss.
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