You don’t have to look very hard to find numerous reports on our nation’s ever-expanding waistline; the dramatic growth of obesity across our country is staggering. Research shows that the national adult rate of obesity grew from around 10% in the 1990s to 35% in 2010. The rate among children rose from 5% to 17% in the same time period.
Arizona is not immune from this growing problem. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the obesity rate in our state has more than doubled over the past 20 years.
The spike in obesity rates is much more than simply a weight problem. Public health experts and others have imputed the health problems associated with this weight gain. From heart disease to diabetes, cancer to strokes – the effects of obesity are devastating to the overall health of Arizona.
A study, just released by the Brookings Center for Social Dynamics and Policy, purports to identify the costs associated with this. For children, they estimate that medical costs for the 12.7 million obese children across the US could reach $1.1 trillion should they stay obese as adults. The study also suggests that obese adults between the ages of 25 to 85 accumulate $92,235 in average costs related to medical care, lost productivity, social security disability insurance, disability claims, and lost taxes.
The problems associated with weight gain are apparent to most people. However, solutions are far more difficult to achieve. Counting the dollars associated with the problem might help translate this to a language that makes it more likely that we will search for and find the right solutions. This issue is affecting Arizonans every day we struggle with the resource challenge we are facing in our state with regard to funding for health care and health coverage. The savings from beginning to win our battle of the waistline could go a long way toward providing money to work on other health problems.
But doing so remains the problem. What do you think our best Arizona answers are for reducing the problem of obesity and its costs?