Child Obesity Costs $20K Over Lifetime

Child Obesity Costs $20K Over Lifetime


As if we needed another reason to stay in
shape. Now a recent study suggests losing those extra pounds during childhood could
save thousands in extra medical costs later down the road. According to new findings published in the
journal Pediatrics, an obese 10-year-old’s medical costs could rise as much as $20,000
over a lifetime compared to kids of healthier weight. USA Today reports when that number is multiplied
by the 20 percent of U.S. children who are obese, medical costs over a lifetime amount
to a total of about $14 billion combined. The Duke researchers say even normal-weight
children who become obese later in life will see their medical costs increase by almost
$13,000. (Via HBO / “The Weight of the Nation”) But those figures account for only direct
medical costs like medication, and don’t include indirect costs such as quality-of-life issues,
which could actually add to those numbers. The study cites a need to target childhood
obesity to address obesity in adults, one third of which are obese in the U.S. (Via
WSB-TV) According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, obese children are more likely to develop conditions both in the short and
long term. Those conditions include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Time quotes the study’s lead author who said,
“reducing childhood obesity is a public-health priority that has substantial health and economic
benefits.” The researchers suggest decreasing or eliminating
those extra medical costs related to obesity can be done if kids can keep the weight off
by forming healthy eating habits. (Via KSPS) But getting there isn’t exactly easy, especially
with the prevalence of sugary, processed foods many kids consume today. A health professional tells HealthDay: “We
didn’t see this kind of obesity 25 years ago. It’s not only about personal and family responsibility.
Society needs to change.” The overall obesity rate in the U.S. has not
changed during the past decade, but it is notable in toddlers aged 2 to 5 it’s dropped
43 percent.

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