The rising tide of obesity-related illness the U.S. costs about $150 billion annually, double the amount it was a decade ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That accounts for about 10 percent of all medical spending nationally. With greater than one-third of American adults obese and one in six children as well, the epidemic will continue to drive up health-care costs. Obesity also increasingly undermines worker productivity. Obesity-related illnesses deteriorate the health and quality of the American work force and the viability of its future members.
In Mississippi, consistently ranked among the country's most obese states, poor work force health passes along hidden costs to businesses and the state. Obesity increases a person's risk for numerous chronic diseases - cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension chief among them. While physicians can control many of those diseases and help people live normal lives, that care takes people out of their normal routines and, often, away from work. Uncontrolled diseases cause a far greater impact. Providing acute care for preventable illnesses - such as an ambulance ride and emergency-room treatment for a heart attack - drives up costs of private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, and can create losses for hospitals if the person is uninsured. The more unhealthful our work force becomes, the more our costs of health care increase -- costs that already threaten to overwhelm our health care systems.
Researchers estimate if trends continue, obese people will spend an on average more than $8,300 on health care annually by 2018, compared to the estimated $5,800 a healthy person will spend. Even if the national obesity rates remain stagnant, the cost of treatment is expected to jump another $50 billion annually to $200 billion. Those costs will further burden employers through health insurance rates and lost productivity when employees are repeatedly absent to receive care for preventable diseases.
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