Obesity rates climbed at least 90 percent in 17 states from 1995 to last year — gains that have a direct bearing on U.S. health spending, according to a report.
Jeff Levi, the study’s author, emphasized that it will take years to get the obesity epidemic under control. “This is not a national diet that will be over in a couple of months,” he said.
The report’s authors called on U.S. lawmakers to refrain from cutting programs to fight the condition. Medicare and Medicaid each spend more than 20 percent of their budget to treat illnesses related to avoidable medical risks like obesity and smoking.
“We can’t afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health-care spending,” Levi said.
A combination of fewer calories, healthier foods and more physical activity is needed to start cutting pounds, researchers report. Drastic solutions like weight-loss surgery and prescription drugs are costly, last-ditch efforts meant only for people already suffering complications from their weight — not a society-wide solution.