I was reading an interesting blog post recently that was discussing the rising cost of healthcare, specifically in the US, and how obesity has an impact on it. There's some interesting numbers and some interesting themes discussed and I want to share it here.
Currently the cost of healthcare per person in the US every year is around $8000. This basically means that currently healthcare is costing the US about 2.5 trillion dollars a year. Compared to lots of European counties that is quite high but a similar trend is taking place. The worrying fact is that as obesity rates rise the rates of other diseases rise too - heart disease, diabetes etc. it's projected that within 10 years the health care costs could rise to 4.5 trillion dollars. One big concern? Where is the US going to find another 2 trillion dollars?
What's interesting though is the fact it's these numbers that are taking the headlines and getting people worried. There's also another number out there that's probably more important but gets ignored. It's estimated that 70% of the healthcare issues facing the US are preventable. 70%!!! That's a huge number.
These are preventable because they are thought to be driven by the obesity crisis. We need to get people to focus on this number - the cause - rather than the effect - the cost increase - if we want to make a difference.
That's a good message but once again it's tainted with poor advice. The advice that's given is for people to eat less and exercise more. Quite frankly that's bad advice. Eating less and exercising more is a poor way to lose weight and is not a long term solution. Yes, moving more will make a difference to health and fitness, but only when done correctly - just hitting the treadmill isn't the best way to go. Eating less will make people lose weight, but not in a healthy way. Malnutrition from eating less has other indications on your body and isn't a sustainable way of losing weight long term.
Instead, we need to be advising people to look at what they're eating - the type and quality of food they're putting in their bodies. Alongside that more advice around appropriate ways to improve health and fitness in terms of exercise that include flexibility, suppleness, power, strength, balance, coordination and more - not just hitting the treadmill.
It's good to see people are starting to take note of the impact our poor lifestyles (in much of the developed world) are impacting our health. Now we just need to get the right advice and message out there to help people help themselves! Spread the word!