Obesity may be even more expensive than we thought

Remember this summer when we talked about the cost — dollars and cents as well as human capital — of obesity? (Click here for a refresher.) At that time, the Centers for Disease Control had just issued a report that put the cost to treat obesity and its related ailments at close to $150 billion a year.

In response to this report and in a Grand Rounds presentation, Dr. Bob Siegel, medical director of the Cincinnati Children’s Heart Institute’s Center for Better Health and Nutrition, made the statement that “we literally can’t afford this,” and went on to tell the audience that the costs are expected to triple in the next 10 years if we do nothing.

Based on a study we saw earlier this week, it may not take that long.

The study, released this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research and reported here by MSNBC, places obesity-related medical costs at about $168 billion a year, $21 billion more than the report released in August.

These numbers are clearly moving targets, but its a reliable indication that these costs are rising, and rising quickly.

To echo Dr. Siegel, we literally can’t afford this.

The good news, however, is that we all have the ability to change the trajectory of this epidemic.

If we all give up our afternoon can of soda, stand strong in our refusal of a second cookie from the “food trough” in the office (we have one and we bet you do too) and kick our kids outside to play this evening instead of turning on the TV before dinner, we will make a difference.

Even small changes are important steps in the direction of controlling healthcare costs and setting healthy examples for our children.

Kate Setter

About the Author: Kate Setter

Kate manages social media at Cincinnati Children's, a role that she loves because it gives her opportunities to help families find stories and pediatric health information that they want and need. Kate is the mother of two elementary-age kiddos.

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