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Reducing Obesity: Policy Strategies from the Tobacco Wars*

Authors:

Carolyn L. Engelhard ,

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, US
About Carolyn L.
M.P.A.
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Arthur Garson, Jr.,

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, US
About Arthur
M.D., M.P.H.
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Stan Dorn

The Urban Institute Washington, DC, US
About Stan
M.D.
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Abstract

Obesity Sickens, Kills, and Creates Significant Societal Costs

For the first time since the Civil War, American life expectancy is projected to decrease.1 The reason: diseases related to obesity.

Obesity now affects one in six children and more than one in three adults.2, 3 Obesity rates have more than doubled over the past 40 years, and the percentage of children age six to 11 who are obese has quadrupled,4 climbing from 4 to 18.8%; 40% of American adults will be obese by 2015.5 Obesity and excess weight contribute to more than 20 chronic illnesses, ranging from diabetes and hypertension to conditions with less well-known links to obesity, such as colon cancer.6 In 2000, obesity caused an estimated 112,000 deaths.7 With each obese employee estimated to cost employers 20 lost days of work a year, obesity adversely affects productivity more than any other health problem.

Rising obesity rates also affect health care spending.8 In 2009, obesity and overweight together will add $228 billion to the nation’s health care bills.

This issue affects all of us, including the non-obese. Obesity increases health insurance premiums for the average non-obese worker by an average of $150 a year in 1998 dollars,9 totaling $25.6 billion in extra premium costs.

How to Cite: 1. Engelhard CL, Garson, Jr. A, Dorn S. Reducing Obesity: Policy Strategies from the Tobacco Wars*. Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal. 2009;5(4):46-50. DOI: http://doi.org/10.14797/mdcvj.184
Published on 01 Jan 2009.
Peer Reviewed

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