The obesity epidemic threatens Texas' physical and fiscal health. Texans young and old are growing fatter. Nearly 63 percent of Texas adults and 32 percent of Texas high school children are overweight or obese. Obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and hypertension are increasing at the same rate as obesity.
Obesity and its related diseases are a major factor in rising health care costs and health insurance premiums. According to a 2003 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States spends approximately $79 billion dollars in direct medical costs related to overweight and obesity. Texas spends $5.3 billion on medical costs related to overweight and obesity.
Obesity drives up health insurance cost, too. Average employment-based health insurance premiums in Texas increased 29.3 percent overall from 2001 to 2004. If the obesity epidemic continues at its current rate, it could cost Texas businesses $15.8 billion annually by 2025.
To combat the state's obesity epidemic, particularly among children, legislators passed measures to require physical activity in Texas schools and remove unhealthy foods from school cafeterias and vending machines. However, we still need to do much more work to curtail Texas' obesity epidemic.
Medicine's 2009 Agenda
- Support funding to improve education on the importance of proper nutrition and physical activity.
- Support legislation and funding to require and implement a coordinated school health program in all grade levels.
- Encourage health plans to promote healthy lifestyles by encouraging members to seek diagnosis and treatment for weight-related conditions.
- Obesity is responsible for 27 percent of the growth in health care spending. Treating obese patients costs 37 percent more than treating normal-weight patients.
- At least 50 percent of health care expenditures are lifestyle related and preventable. To stop the obesity epidemic, we must focus on preventing obesity rather than treating the diseases that result from it.
- A 2005 study found that 42 percent of Texas fourth graders, 39 percent of eighth graders, and 36 percent of 11th graders were overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. An overweight child has a 70 percent chance to be overweight or obese as an adult.
- Research shows that increased fitness levels correlate positively with improved student academic performance and elevated test scores.
Read the Texas State Comptroller's report, Counting Costs and Calories which reveals the impact on obesity in Texas, its costs to Texas Employers and the devastating health effects on today's work force and our children who are the work force of tomorrow.