Packing on a few pounds may cost more than you think.
A new study by George Washington University shows obese people have not only higher medical bills, but also more employee sick days, lost productivity and even higher gasoline bills – all affecting the bottom line.
The problem isn’t going away anytime soon, either. The U.S. is the fattest nation among 33 countries with advanced economies, according to a recent report from an international think tank. Obesity cost the U.S. an estimated $147 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2008.
How much does it cost?
Researchers found the annual cost of being obese is $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man. The large difference among the sexes has to do with wages. Studies suggested larger women earn less than skinnier women, while wages don’t differ between men of different sizes.
An obese person averages $1,400 more a year in medical spending than normal-weight people. That doesn’t count work-related costs like sick days and disability claims.
The new study also found that nearly 1 billion additional gallons of gasoline are used every year because of increases in car passengers’ weight since 1960.
Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has tripled in the last three decades. Now 32 percent of children and adolescents are obese or overweight.
The extra pounds put children at a greater risk of developing several debilitating and costly diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Children today may live two to five fewer years than their parents because of obesity, according to a 2005 government study.
For the ‘Ho-Ho-Whole Family’
Western Baptist sponsors many efforts to fight childhood obesity. The hospital’s goal is to make children — and their parents and caregivers — “heart smart.” This year’s annual Holiday Health Extravaganza will focus on young families with children to get the entire family interested in their health.
Free screenings will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Dec. 4, in the atrium of Doctors Office Building 2. Screenings include cholesterol (adults only), blood pressure, blood sugar, flexibility, body fat and respiratory. The health fair will include free cooking demonstrations, fitness and nutrition activities for kids and giveaways. Special guests will be Jason Lindsey from “Hooked on Science,” Bob Dog and Santa Claus. Phone (270) 575-2918 for more information.
Send your questions!
Do you have a cardiac question tugging at your heart? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to HeartBeat, 2501 Kentucky Ave., Paducah, KY 42003. If we use it in a future HeartBeat column, you will receive a Western Baptist Hospital door prize