Obesity to worsen, weigh heavily on healthcare costs

Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:56am EDT
 
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By Tan Ee Lyn

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Obesity is most widespread in Britain and the United States among the world's leading economies and if present trends continue, about half of both men and women in the United States will be obese by 2030, health experts warned on Friday.

Obesity is fast replacing tobacco as the single most important preventable cause of chronic non-communicable diseases, and will add an extra 7.8 million cases of diabetes, 6.8 million cases of heart disease and stroke, and 539,000 cases of cancer in the United States by 2030.

Some 32 percent of men and 35 percent of women are now obese in the United States, according to a research team led by Claire Wang at the Mailman School of Public Health in Columbia University in New York. They published their findings in a special series of four papers on obesity in The Lancet.

In Britain, obesity rates will balloon to between 41-48 percent for men and 35-43 percent for women by 2030 from what is now 26 percent for both sexes, they warned.

"An extra 668,000 cases of diabetes, 461,000 of heart disease and 130,000 cancer cases would result," they wrote.

Due to overeating and insufficient exercise, obesity is now a growing problem everywhere and experts are warning about its ripple effects on health and healthcare spending.

Obesity raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various cancers, hypertension, high cholesterol, among others.

Because of obesity, the United States can expect to spend an extra 2.6 percent on its overall healthcare bill, or $66 billion per year, while Britain's bill will grow by 2 percent, or 2 billion per year, Wang and colleagues warned.   Continued...

 
<p>Clifford Clark, weighing 485 pounds waits in line for an open casting call for season 11 of "The Biggest Loser" television show in Broomfield, Colorado July 17, 2010. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>