New Study Reaffirms the Weight of Obesity on our Health Care System

March 27, 2012

Last week the Campaign to End Obesity, a Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) partner, released a study that indicates that the U.S. has underestimated the hefty impact that obesity-related health care costs have – and will continue to have – on the federal budget.  The study, authored by Michael O’Grady and James Capretta, indicates that without targeted efforts to prevent the rise in health care costs associated with obesity, the burden of these costs to our federal health care system will increase another 60 percent by 2020 – and that’s an optimistic scenario, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  The study simply reaffirms that to truly bend the cost curve, we must address what is the number one cost driver in our health care spending today – chronic diseases. 

Treating patients with chronic diseases accounts for more than 80 percent of the nation’s health care spending, and the doubling of obesity between 1987 and now has led to a 20 to 30 percent increase in health care spending.  This spending trend puts us squarely on a path that is not only unsustainable but also unhealthy for both our economy and our people. 

The reality is that the vast majority of chronic diseases – whether asthma, arthritis, cancer, diabetes or heart disease – are highly manageable.  What’s more is that these diseases are also largely preventable, which is promising news for the millions of Americans at high risk of developing a chronic disease. 

We at PFCD remain committed in our belief that there is a growing need to collectively tackle this epidemic head-on by identifying, supporting and investing in more evidence-based programs that focus on the prevention of chronic diseases and well-developed disease management strategies.  Only then can we help transform our health care system from a sick-care system to a well-care system while drastically improving the health of millions of Americans nationwide.