Patrick has been researching and writing about breakthrough tech for over 30 years. He has written over 200 editorials for USA Today. He has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and on CNN’s Crossfire news program.

Patrick has also served as a consultant for national political campaigns and Fortune 500 companies. He’s interviewed and speaks regularly to a host of nationally known CEOs and Nobel Prize-winning scientists and researchers.
Tags: obesity | healthcare spending | diabetes | fatty liver

Obesity Will Bankrupt the U.S.

By Wednesday, 06 July 2016 04:53 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A recent study reported that 40 percent of American women are now obese. That’s the highest percentage in history. Men have a slightly lower rate of 35 percent.

This is not the world that people like John Holdren (President Obama’s science advisor) predicted a few decades ago. By now, we were supposed to have run out of resources due to overpopulation and all starved to death.

The opposite has happened. Abundance replaced scarcity, which brought a new problem: obesity.

The abundance of adipose tissue — fat — is the most obvious sign that we’ve entered the age of abundance. Go to any mall and you will see that we are increasingly obese. This is not just perception. It’s a statistical fact.

Being fat is a source of serious personal angst for many people. My concern, however, isn’t about the feelings of obese people. I have no desire to shame people for their body mass index (BMI).

The problem I have with obesity is strictly and personally financial — I view it as a large economic and societal problem.

More than one-third of the U.S. population has a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher, which is the definition of obesity. One-third of the population is also overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9), and slightly less than one-third is considered normal weight (BMI less than 25).

As an economist, I can’t ignore the fact that obesity significantly increases healthcare costs, even if pointing it hurts feelings. It’s interesting that so many people in the fat acceptance movement are proponents of “free” healthcare. Yet, they don’t seem to grasp that their obesity is causing serious financial problems for our entire society.

Obesity increases the risk of diseases from Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease to fatty liver and Alzheimer’s. As a result, negative medical consequences and costs increase geometrically along with the degree of excess adipose tissue.

It’s estimated that healthcare costs for severely obese adults are 81 percent greater than costs for healthy-weight adults. Obese adults also spend 42 percent more on direct healthcare costs than those of a healthy weight.

And we are all required to subsidize those individuals’ medical care.

Our bodies have protective genetic mechanisms that store energy in fat cells. These mechanisms helped our ancestors survive during times when food was hard to find.

I’ve had great success in reducing weight with my variation of Valter Longo’s fasting mimicking diet (FMD). This diet replicates the ancient cycles of feast and famine that our ancestors routinely endured. Few seem interested in it despite Longo’s supporting data, though.

That means more radical medical interventions are required to get the population’s BMI under 25. A number of therapies have been shown to work on animals in the lab, including brown adipose tissue transplants, vampire (GDF11) therapy, and growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) vaccines.

I have no doubt, however, that we’ll solve the obesity problem. That’s because the healthcare costs for obese individuals will bankrupt us if we don’t.

We already spend more than we take in to pay the medical costs of an increasingly older population. Now with the steady rise in obesity rates, regulators will eventually have to remove the obstacles that are keeping legitimate obesity cures off the market.


If you’re looking for a unique, informed view of the biotech, science, and technology stories that could impact your health and investing portfolio, sign up for Patrick Cox’s free weekly column, Tech Digest, at Mauldin Economics.
 

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A recent study reported that 40 percent of American women are now obese. That’s the highest percentage in history. Men have a slightly lower rate of 35 percent.
obesity, healthcare spending, diabetes, fatty liver
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2016-53-06
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 04:53 PM
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