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​Health Threats and Costs of Severe Obesity

Obesity: A Pervasive Problem in the United States

Obesity is a pervasive problem in the United States that negatively affects health and contributes to rising health care costs. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, over 68 percent of the American population is overweight. Of that number, 33 percent of adults and 17 percent of children aged 2-19 years are obese.

Obesity and Early Death

Morbid obesity brings with it an increased risk for a shorter life expectancy. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, a person who is twice their ideal body weight has twice the risk of experiencing an early death as a non-obese individual.

Conditions Associated with Obesity

The health consequences of obesity are significant. Some of the medical conditions associated with obesity are:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cancer (endometrial, breast and colon)
  • Stroke
  • Liver and gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia (high cholesterol, high triglycerides)
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Gynecological problems

When these medical conditions are associated with obesity, the risk for early death also increases. For example, the risk of early death from diabetes or heart attack when obesity is also factor is five to seven times greater.

Medical Costs of Obesity

The medical costs of obesity are on the rise and starting to affect insurance rates. The journal Health Affairs reported that in 2008 the cost of medical conditions associated with obesity in the United States was $147 billion. On average, medical spending was $1,429 higher for obese people than non-obese people.