Adult Obesity Rates Could Exceed 60 Percent in 13 states by 2030

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

A reduction in BMI by just 5 percent could dramatically reduce the rates of obesity-related diseases and healthcare costs

The number of obese adults, along with related disease rates and healthcare costs, could increase dramatically in every state in the country over the next 20 years, according to a new report from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Thirteen states in particular could see obesity increases upwards of 60 percent if things don’t change, with Mississippi set to have the highest numbers. The number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020 and double again by 2030. Medical costs associated with treating these diseases could increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year in the United States, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.

But if Americans reduced their average body mass index (BMI) by just 5 percent by 2030, the rates of obesity-related diseases and healthcare costs could be significantly reduced, the report claims. Every state could help thousands or millions of people avoid obesity-related diseases, while saving billions of dollars in healthcare costs.

“We need more effective interventions with the population as a whole,” says Dr. Dennis Richlin, chief medical director and wellness officer for HealthFitness, an integrated health coaching program, in a recent HIN webinar. “There is a whole sub-population within employers, and some have taken on employees with programs that have resulted in risk reductions, cost savings and weight change,” he said. “We can make a difference, but it’s not a quick fix…but we could start to see significant changes over the next five years.”

Patient satisfaction could be one of the most significant changes among those involved in health and wellness programs, according to our currently running Population Health Management survey. But getting patients to embark on and remain engaged in such a program remains the greatest challenge for those considering launching one, say nearly half of our respondents at this point in the survey.

In other news, another way to lower healthcare costs could be by extending physician office hours. A new study links the two, finding that patients whose usual source of care offers extended hours by remaining open during evening and weekend hours had less use of and lower associated expenditures for office visits, prescription medications, ED visits and hospitalizations than patients without such access.

And one way to use those extended hours in the waiting room could be by reviewing healthcare benefits, because, according to a new survey from Aetna, choosing them is the second most difficult decision to make behind savings for retirement. In fact, choosing benefits is considered to be tougher than purchasing a car, making decisions about medical tests or treatments, and even parenting. The main problem is complicated, conflicting information. See what our managing editor has to say about this in her blog post Is Choosing Healthcare Coverage Really Harder Than Parenting?

But there is some uncomplicated good news for Medicare Advantage members: it continues to remain strong, with a projected enrollment increase of 11 percent in the next year, and no increase in premiums, according to the CMS.

Read all of these stories in their entirety in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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