Obesity is defined as 30 or more pounds above ideal body weight. Obesity is slowly becoming a global problem and more so in developed countries. According to a recent report the number of obese adults in the U.S. is currently about 31 percent. In 1980 it was 23% and 15 percent in 1970.
Obesity not only causes problems with heart but also many other diseases like arthritis, diabetes, impotency etc. This has resulted in spiraling of private healthcare costs and it is estimated that as a result of obesity there has been an increase of 1000 percent costs over a 15-year period. In 2002 nearly 12 percent of all healthcare spending was aimed at obese patients. The report published in 'Health Affairs' indicates that the money spent treating obese patients rose from $3.6 billion in 1987 to $36.5 billion.
Chairman of the department of health policy and management at Emory University in Atlanta, Dr Kenneth Thorpe, who conducted the study along with others said," We need to have the same type of societal attention on this issue that we gave to smoking 20 years ago," Thorpe said. This was quoted by ConsumerAffairs.com. He further explained "You can break health care spending into two things, one is that we're treating more people who are sick, and second is that is costs more to treat those patients."
The study indicated that 15.5 percent of obese patients were treated for six or more medical conditions in 2001 which is nearly double the 1987 percentage. Thorpe felt that the obesity problem was likely to only get worse. He said, "The costs are up because so many more Americans are obese and because they're being more aggressively treated for weight-related illnesses".