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    Better than gold? Combating the financial impact of obesity

    TODAY’S HEALTH CARE DELIVERY AND FINANCING DILEMMA: Our nation will invest about $3 trillion in health care treatments in 2013, or approximately $9,400 for each of our 318 million Americans. Health care expenditures represent about 1/6th of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

    The “Affordable Care Act” (a.k.a. Obamacare), regardless of its outcome, has changed our nation’s health care delivery and finance system forever. Doctors are leaving, medical treatment costs continue to rise, and now the cost and availability of health care insurance is in question.

    All of these changes put a greater emphasis on reducing preventable, obesity-related illnesses.

    TREATMENT VS. PREVENTION: Forbes says, “Chronic diseases are the most common and costly of all health problems, but they are also the most preventable.” Source: (http://www.forbes.com/, Oct. 3, 2013)

    PricewaterhouseCoopers found,” As much as $493 billion of health-care spending may be attributable to so-called manageable behaviors, including about $200 billion to deal with obesity and weight control…”

    The vast majority of these expenditures are for the treatment versus prevention of illnesses. Why? Because the profitability of treating illnesses far exceeds the economic rewards to health care providers for preventing illnesses.

    GREATER PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN HEALTH: The four major influences on our health are (in this order): genetics, personal behaviors, the environment, and medical care. (http://georgezapo.com/health-family/influences/)

    Since our genetics are basically “fixed”; the environment is “out of our individual control”; and medical care is in turmoil, our best opportunity to preserve our good health is to control our personal behaviors.

    Two key health behaviors that we control are: nutrition (what, when and how we eat) and exercise. While most of us understand this fact, very few of us actually eat healthy and exercise regularly. Hence, our nation’s obesity rate continues to attack our nation’s health by facilitating the development of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

    Therefore, greater emphasis is being assigned to personal responsibility to engage in health behaviors.

    On November 12, 2013, a coalition of the American Heart Association, The Obesity Society, and the American College of Cardiology issued new guidelines encouraging doctors to be more assertive about reducing obesity among their patients, especially those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. (http://www.obesity.org/ )


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