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Obesity: A Capital Issue or an Issue of Capital?

Posted Jan 11 2011 12:00am
As both a nationwide health crisis and an economic nightmare, obesity is a capital issue. 75% of the 2.47 trillion of annual U.S. health care costs stems from chronic diseases, many of which can be prevented or delayed by lifestyle choices. This is an extraordinary number – a number which is finally causing people to sit up and take notice.
Although doctors can play an important role in helping their patients get healthy, to date, most are unable to provide the resources necessary to evoke true lifestyle changes among their unhealthy and overweight patients. The length of the average doctor’s office visit involves less than 20 minutes of face time with the M.D. himself. Additionally, many physicians are ill-equipped to provide up-to-date nutrition and wellness advice due to lack of training in that specific field. So, private insurers and corporate wellness companies are picking up the slack – instructing behavioral change and everyday health where doctors fail to.

Research indicates that the total annual economic cost of overweight and obesity in the United States and Canada caused by medical costs, excess mortality, and disability was approximately $300 billion in 2009 alone. But, these costs could be effectively kept at bay with preventative teachings. This is where wellness companies come in.

Wellness initiatives can reduce health care costs on an individual level, on a corporate level, as well as on a national level. Until doctors and medical professionals are able to sit down and talk with their patients regularly about implementing positive lifestyle changes, health coaches , registered dieticians, and wellness programs are often the most reliable and effective way to encourage healthy choices and minimize future costs.
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