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The Cost of Obesity

By Fredrica Syren:

Never has there been so much discussion about the cost of health care as in recent years. Yes, I agree it’s getting very expensive tocostsofobesity be sick and have health insurance. Even living in Sweden, where health care is pretty much free, it’s getting expensive. Here you’re talking about a mom of three kids so, yes, I spend a fair amount of money on health care. It’s no wonder that health care is getting pricey because we’re getting sicker. Heart disease, cancer and diabetes are on the rise and, unfortunately, obesity is the reason for many of these problems.

Today more than 1/3 of all men in the U.S. are obese; and obesity related illnesses such as cancer, hearth disease, stroke and osteoarthritis are also on the rise because of it. In a country like the U.S., despite the abundance of beautiful vegetables and fruits, the general public are not avid plant-based food eaters and have an obesity epidemic. Sadly, obesity in America is costing $190 billion annually in national healthcare, all because the obesity rate has risen a full 34% since 1960. The cost is mainly for treating obesity, not so much for preventing in it.

In Europe 1 in 13 deaths are attributed to obesity today, The U.K., for example, estimates that the cost of treating obesity will reach £27 billion by 2015. Obesity is clearly a global epidemic.

Image from http://today.duke.edu
Image from http://today.duke.edu

Childhood obesity has also increased substantially over the past three decades. The numbers are scary: approximately 17% of children and adolescents (aged 2 to 19) in the U.S. are obese. Childhood obesity is a huge financial burden for the government and taxpayers. In 2008, about $14.1 billion was spent to treat children with obesity related issues in the U.S. alone. This cost will just keep on growing as the child does because children who are obese or overweight tend to end up with serious health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, and osteoarthritis.

So how do we stop this epidemic? Prevention is the only real answer, and it has to happen now. We no longer can hide behind a rock and blame fast-food restaurants, media and or genes. The change has to come from everyone: governments and schools, businesses and nonprofit organizations, neighborhoods and communities, individuals and families. The fact is that we need to teach children in particular about healthy habits, and it begins with eating fewer processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables.

According to research done by the Harvard School of Public Health, these are the areas that need to be worked on:

  • Limiting unhealthy foods (refined grains and sweets, potatoes, red meat, processed meat) and beverages (sugary drinks)
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Limiting television time, screen time, and other “sit time”
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing stress

The silver lining of fighting obesity is that we would get back to basics: eating a healthy diet, living a healthy life; and taking personal responsibility for the care of oneself, friends and family. Together we can fight this, but we need to start TODAY.

About Green Mom

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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