Unhealthy Habits Cost U.S. $50 Billion a Year

KEY DATA: While millennials continue to complain about the high cost of healthcare they don’t seem to do enough to lower their risk of poor health. Healthier eating could save the United States more than $50 billion a year in health care costs associated with heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and related illnesses, according to a new study.

An unhealthy diet is one of the leading risk factors for poor health and accounts for up to 45% of all deaths from these cardiometabolic diseases, the researchers 

The study authors concluded that poor eating habits cost the United States about $300 per person, or $50 billion, a year and accounted for 18% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes costs.

Of those costs, 84% was for acute care, the researchers reported. Costs were highest for people with Medicare ($481 per person) and for those who were eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid ($536 per person).

Health spending totaled $74.6 billion in 1970. By 2000, health expenditures had reached about $1.4 trillion, and in 2018 the amount spent on health had more than doubled to $3.6 trillion. Total health expenditures represent the amount spent on healthcare and health-related activities (such as administration of insurance, health research, and public health), including expenditures from both public and private funds.

For millennials, cancers fueled by obesity are on the rise,

A study, published Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, analyzed data from more than 750,000 adults in the United States, Europe, and Australia, and found that recommended amounts of physical activity correlated with lower risks of seven types of cancer.

These cancer types were colon, breast, kidney, myeloma, liver, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and endometrial.

For millennials, cancers fueled by obesity are on the rise, the study says.

‘Given the large increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among young people and increasing risks of obesity-related cancers in contemporary birth cohorts, the future burden of these cancers could worsen as younger cohorts age, potentially halting or reversing the progress achieved in reducing cancer mortality over the past several decades.

The conclusion of the study is “health care providers, fitness professionals, and public health practitioners should encourage adults to adopt and maintain physical activity at recommended levels to lower risks of multiple cancers”. We have to go beyond this if we are going to tackle unhealthy habits.

Employers need to team with health insurers to reach and educate employees about the costs and health repercussions of bad diets and lack of exercise. Employers need to go to the source to help lower their healthcare expenses and investing in on-site health facilities as well as ensuring company cafeterias serve healthy food is just a start.

Doctors need to remind patients that they are overweight and insurers need to contact obese customers to help them overcome weight issues.

We cannot stand by and do nothing while Millennials become the most obese generation in history.