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Defeat Diabetes
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Elderly Obesity Costly for Everyone

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2008

(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Obese elderly individuals are not only doing harm to their own health, but to the financial health of every tax paying American citizen. According to a recent study, the health care costs for obese elderly individuals are substantially higher than those of normal weight, accounting for a disproportionate amount of  the tax funded medicare program.
 
According to the study, the health costs for overweight elderly individuals range from 6-17% higher than normal weight elderly individuals, depending on the amount of extra weight one is carrying. This translates to $15,000-$26,000 extra coming out of tax payers money. Medicare covers people 65 years or older.
 
Being overweight and obese greatly increases the likelihood of dangerous and expensive conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, especially as one gets older. While it is extremely important for each individual to take care of themselves with proper nutrition and exercise, this study makes it clear that more initiative should be taken by all parties of all ages to educate about the harm that being unhealthy and overweight can cause. "More aggressive public health campaigns or early behavioral or policy intervention to stop the obesity epidemic could be cost-effective as well as otherwise beneficial for society," concludes lead researcher Dr. Zhou Yang.
 
Author's note: Of course, being overweight and having more serious medical conditions leads to a higher mortality rate, and dead individuals don't cost medicare anything. This means that the conclusion of obese elderly individuals costing tax payers more money is somewhat skewed. Hopefully, it is not the goal for elderly individuals to have higher mortality rates to keep medicare bills lower though. The best solution is therefore, as mentioned in the study above, to actively try and keep the elderly healthy, which would both lower health care costs and raise life expectancies. 

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Yang, Zhou. Health Services Research news release. July 2008.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2008 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
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