Obesity has surpassed smoking in harming our health

A recent article to be published in the February 2010 issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine is bound to stir up a lot of emotion in the nation’s ongoing health care discussions. The article titled Trends in Quality-Adjusted Life-Years Lost Contributed by Smoking and Obesity really boils down to this: Obesity is equal or has surpassed smoking as a contributor to illness and the shortening of healthy life.

This article may intensify trends already seen in the health insurance industry where obesity can mean higher health insurance premiums or even denial of coverage. The increased health care costs associated with treating conditions related to obesity is the new hot button for health insurers.  Consumers need to be aware that health insurance companies are ultimately in business to make money and they are viewing those who are obese as a poor business risk because the likelihood that they will develop health problems is dramatically higher individuals at a healthy weight.

Clearly Americans need to lose weight. From 1993 to 2008 the proportion of obese people increased 85% according the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) established by the CDC.  The fact that losing weight is difficult is well established however it is doable.  A great site to check out techniques used by successful “losers” is The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), established in 1994 by Rena Wing, Ph.D. from Brown Medical School, and James O. Hill, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, it is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance.

By Cindy Farricker, MS, RD, CDE