Topic 1: The health and social impact of obesity to America
Today, nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. 41% of youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are overweight or obese.
One in three Americans identifies obesity and obesity-related chronic disease as the most urgent health problem facing the country.
The World Health Organization states that overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Childhood obesity specifically has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being:
- 70% of obese youth have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease; and,
- Obese adolescents are more likely to have prediabetes.
Topic 2: The economic impact of obesity to America
Obesity and obesity related chronic diseases – such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes – are the leading cause of death, disability, and rising healthcare costs in the world.Medical costs resulting from obesity total more than $147 billion. Across the U.S, obesity and overweight represent nearly 10% of spending in healthcare.The Partnership To Fight Chronic Disease recently published a news release, which highlighted that:
- The U.S. spends more per capita annually on healthcare for obese Americans than normal weight Americans.
- Obesity is a major – and growing – driver of spending in Medicare and Medicaid.There is currently a lack of effective care coordination in many private plans and Medicaid and no care coordination so far in traditional Medicare. Medicare will spend about $500 billion over the next decade on potentially preventable hospital readmissions. Medicaid faces the same set of issues, particularly with dual eligibles.Between 1997 and 2006, the percentage of obese people rose from 21% to 29% of Medicare beneficiaries. During that same time, the annual healthcare cost for Medicaid beneficiaries rose per person by $122 for a normal-weight person, $230 for those who were overweight and by $271 for obese beneficiaries.Current Medicare coverage for obesity includes intensive behavioral therapy (IBT) (for one year, provided patients lose 6.6 lb in six months, ~3% body weight, based on clinical trials) and bariatric annual healthcare cost for Medicaid beneficiaries rose per person by $122 for a normal-weight person, $230 for those who were overweight and by $271 for obese beneficiaries.Current Medicare coverage for obesity includes intensive behavioral therapy (IBT) (for one year, provided patients lose 6.6 lb in six months, ~3% body weight, based on clinical trials) and bariatrict gap.
Topic 3: How does obesity affect employers?
Overweight and obesity costs U.S. companies billions in lost productivity. Absenteeism related to overweight, obesity and chronic conditions alone costs companies more than $153 billion per year in lost productivity. With 86% of full-time workers in the U.S. above normal weight or at least one chronic condition, this is a significant concern.
Indirect costs of poor health including absenteeism, disability, or reduced work output may be several times higher than direct medical costs. Obesity and related chronic diseases cost employers up to $93 billion a year in health insurance claims.
Topic 4: The importance of prevention
Better management and prevention of obesity can improve health outcomes and save billions of dollars.On the national level, spending in Medicare and Medicaid could be significantly reduced for a small per capita investment. For an annual investment of $10 per American in community-based disease prevention programs, Medicare could save $6 billion annually within 10 to 20 years. Medicaid could save more than $2 billion annually over the same time period.While many state health agencies provide population-based primary prevention services that address chronic disease risk factors and 90% of state health agencies receive funding from the CDC to prevent obesity, only 4% of state health agencies listed chronic disease prevention in their top five priorities.
While not specific to obesity, CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Program (http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/) offers an excellent example of a collaborative prevention program. The Diabetes Prevention Program research study showed that making modest behavior changes helped participants lose 5% to 7% of their body weight.The STOP Obesity Alliance recently released recommendations for nonprofit hospitals that plan to address obesity through community benefit activities. The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease is proud to have collaborated with the STOP Obesity Alliance in the development on this report.Some other examples of programs impacting obesity include:
- CDC’s Healthy Community Design Initiative: www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces
- The Community Guide (Community Task Force): http://www.thecommunityguide.org/obesity/communitysettings.html
- Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation): http://www.healthykidshealthycommunities.org/
- ProActive Kids: http://proactivekids.org/
- Safe Routes to Schools: www.saferoutespartnership.org
Thanks for the great question. There are many easy ways that physical activity can be incorporated into a normal day, such as walking or biking to work, using stairs instead of elevators or by joining a walking/running group.To help set good habits, it’s important that children be encouraged to exercise – whether at school, at home or through extra-curricular activities.Unfortunately there is no single solution for everyone.At a recent PFCD event, Dr. Eric Walsh, Director of Public Health/Health Officer for the City of Pasadena, highlighted some of the challenges to equitable access to safe environments for physical activity. Where you live, where you work, health conditions and other factors can restrict access to opportunities for exercise.As we address obesity in America, that’s part of what we need to promote – building safe communities that encourage healthy behaviors (exercise, access to healthcare, healthy eating, etc).
Q: In June of 2013, the AMA voted to categorize obesity as a disease contrary to the advice of their own panel of experts. Should obesity be classified as a disease?
The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease supports the American Medical Association’s decision to categorize obesity as a disease.Obesity is increasingly impacting health outcomes, the affordability of insurance coverage, and the bottom line of our entire economy. Focusing on obesity and advancing solutions for prevention and better healthcare management must be a top priority.Following the recognition of obesity as a disease by the American Medical Association and most other major provider organizations, addressing the growing waistlines in America has become a focal point of healthcare discussions in Congress.
On November 12th at 11:00 am EST, The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) will host an hour-long, live conversation addressing obesity in America with Kenneth Thorpe (Chairman, PFCD) and Tommy G. Thompson (Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary and Governor of Wisconsin).
The PFCD believes that addressing obesity in America is a national priority, and by doing so, we can improve health outcomes and save billions of dollars by better managing and preventing obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases.
Topics that will be addressed during the live Q&A include:
- The health and social impact of obesity to America
- The economic impact of obesity to America
- The importance of prevention
- Demonstrated successes – programs that have proven impact
Questions can be submitted in advance or asked live by sending a message to @PFCD using #PFCD or commenting on our Facebook post. Follow the discussion on twitter using #PFCD or at www.fightchronicdisease.org/liveqa
November 12th from 11am - noon EST
Key Twitter Handles
@PFCD – Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
@KennethThorpe – Kenneth Thorpe (Chairman, PFCD)
@TommyforHealth - Tommy G. Thompson (Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary and Governor of Wisconsin