Health costs up as obesity rate rises

More than 30 percent of Indiana adults are obese, a record high, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This puts us at 15th highest in the nation. For those in the 45 to 64 age group it is 37.4 percent. In 1990, for comparison, about 13 percent of adults were obese.

Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and health care costs in the country. A study done in 2010 estimated health care costs for treatment, including indirect costs, to be more than $315 billion a year, as stated in Pharmaco Economics. If the current trend is not addressed, it is estimated to continue to increase each year through 2030, costing $41 billion a year.

Obesity is a direct or indirect cause of a bevy of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, asthma, gallbladder disease and dementia. Obese people live six to seven years less.

Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death in this world. In 2015 the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute spent $915 million on obesity research to discover new treatment and prevention strategies. This has proven inadequate, given the economic toll this public health problem has on our society. Technological changes in our society have drastically reduced our physical activity with people spending more time in cars, using computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.

The most common method to determine one’s weight classification is thru the Body Mass Index (BMI), which was designed by the World Health Organization. It uses your height and weight to compare to their chart to determine normal, overweight, obese and extremely obese. This is an important chart to aid with one’s weight analysis if you are determined to get your weight under control for better lifestyle.

Two years ago, when I reached 80 years old, I began to look at my overall health condition quite closely and with medical research realized I was at risk for potential long range health issues because of my weight.

I had few health issues thus far in my journey, so I wanted to retain my condition, which would mean I had better lose some weight now. I had never tried to lose weight, so I had no personal experience with doing so although my wife had tried several times to do so with limited success.

With an annual checkup with our doctor I spoke to him about my proposed weight loss, and he agreed with my mission. I was curious about how much is spent on weight loss efforts each year. Hope you’re sitting down, because it amounts to $60 billion, according to Market data Enterprises. There are about 75 million Americans trying to lose weight each year, with only some 7.5 million being successful on a permanent basis.

About this same time, my wife saw an interview of Dr. William Davis on TV, and we both learned about his wheat belly lifestyle change per his book “Wheat Belly.” After careful review on his website, we ordered his book.

I was impressed with a life-changing eating program that seemed so doable and was shocked at the damage that the current altered grains are doing to our bodies. The wheat and corn grown today is far removed from the crops grown in the 50s, which I grew up with in the farm fields of Ohio.

The bottom line to this is that my wife and I committed to the lifestyle change, and together we have lost 80 pounds in about 18 months. I lost 25 pounds in the first three months. We take no weight loss pills and only do our normal activities with little or no extra exercise.

It takes a serious commitment to continue looking at what manufactured foods place in their products. Just one example is high fructose corn syrup, which is in 90 percent of canned food products; however, the more damaging effect is it increases your appetite, thus you eat more. Fortunately, there has been some backlash to the frequent use of that product.

It’s interesting to see how a few manufacturers are agreeing that this is not an additive good for the public even with it being there for many years. Eating out is a challenge, but with questions to your server you can make it work. I can tell by their response to my questions and requests for specific food they are fielding more health-related questions than in the past.

We would like to help with your goal to lose extra weight and would be pleased to answer any questions you may have. Our body is not our own and we need to take care of it. Our e-mail is the following: dean

Dean McFarland is a member of the Hancock County Council on Aging. Send comments to dr- editorial@