The Health Guru

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The cost of Obesity – Can you afford it?

Posted on | October 1, 2010 | No Comments

This staggering health report and prediction comes out of the UK identifying the growing obesity pandemic and potential strain on the medical system if nothing is done to reduce the obesity problem that we’re experiencing.

UK Obesity Facts:

  • 62% of UK citizens are obese or overweight.
  • Nearly a million people in the UK may be eligible for obesity surgery
  • For every one of these people to have weight reduction surgery it will cost £9.1bn (SD $19 billion)

The cost of gastric band surgery is £10,000 (SD $21K) and is used to reduce the amount of food eaten by making the stomach smaller. This then must be followed by life-long monitoring and daily vitamin supplements which is estimated to cost £700 ($1.5k) per year individually or £637m (SD$1.3 billion) nationally.

Over 10 years, it’s estimated to amount to another £1.6 bn (SD $3.4bn) and that’s before considering any cosmetic implications such as getting rid of the excess flaps of loose skin left after weight loss.

And with obesity rates rising, these monetary figures and estimations would only escalate when you consider all the others who will qualify for surgery next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

Now let’s factor in that people who are overweight and beyond will often have weight-related illnesses such as High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Heart problems, Arthritis – all of which are treated with medication – so the $$$ continue to increase.

Who’s fault is this?  Who should pay?  How will we cope? How can we stop it?  Has the problem got so bad now that it’s irreversible and prevention is impossible?

This is how we fix it in my opinion:

People need to recognize obesity as a defined problem that needs specially qualified people to treat it.  I.e. Having a personal gym trainer, your local pharmacist and reading magazines at home is not how weight problems should be addressed.  If you had a sore tooth would you go to the pharmacist ask how to extract it – trust their advice (buy a book about it just to be sure) and then attempt to pull the tooth out at home? No.  You would go and see a dentist about your problem.

There needs to recognised Obesity Experts / Health Coaches to manage this for you – and – it shouldn’t be confused with adjunct therapies for health such as nutrition/dietetics and sports.

On the contrary to what you might think – Doctors are not trained experts in Obesity.  The only way they treat obesity is through drugs to either lower appetite or remove fat from the diet and if you are morbidly obese they can recommend surgery.  They are not trained correctly in diet, nutrition and lifestyle modification – nor do they have the time that needs to be dedicated to some one who is obese and needs daily care.  So doctors aren’t the solution.

And controversially, I believe stronger restrictions need to be enforced with food manufacturers.  30 years ago there simply wasn’t the instant food options that there are today.  Stricter guidelines about food contents, calories, portion sizes and additives need to be more strictly monitored

Finally, more education is needed to the general public about  a) understanding food  b) how to cook at home c) what hunger is / why you get hungry d) how to make better food choices e)  that weight is linked to health.

Obesity is real.  And it’s on the rise.  And you don’t have to be morbidly overweight to be classified as obese as some would think. The fact is that we are eating and drinking ourselves to death.   And, to resurrect the problem the current medical solution is popping a pill or having expensive surgery????  It’s hard to believe that’s the best we can do in these modern days isn’t it? The time has come for urgent change before this problem spirals further out of hand.

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