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Editorial: Obesity Weighs Heavily On Economic Health

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Obesity has become such a problem in America that it could threaten the health care system — with or without President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than one-third of American adults and almost 17 percent of children were obese in 2009-2010. That’s more than 78 million adults and almost 13 million children ages 2-19. That despite national campaigns, including by first lady Michelle Obama, to raise awareness of the health risks tied to being overweight. And despite efforts of health care professionals and the booming health and fitness industries to help their patients and clients address the problem.

When is someone considered obese? When his or her BMI (body mass index), a ratio of weight to height, is 30 or more. And it’s less than you might think — for example, a 5-foot, 6-inch adult who weighs 186 pounds is obese, according to a Reuters report.

Health problems linked to obesity include heart disease and stroke; high blood pressure; diabetes; cancer; gallbladder disease and gallstones; osteoarthritis; gout and breathing problems, such as sleep apnea and asthma. In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion, according to the CDC, and people who were obese had per capita medical costs that were $1,429 higher than people of normal weight.

These are all signs that obesity will be a huge problem as the nation struggles to get a grip on spiraling health care costs, so reversing the trend is essential to the health — physical and economic — of this nation.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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