People in the U.S. rely on pharma to compensate for bad habits

SUMMARY: By 2030, 48.9% of adults in the United States will be obese and 24.2% will be severely obese. Obesity leads to serious health problems and extra healthcare costs including the reliance on prescription drugs. Leading this category are millennials who are the most obese generation in the history of our country.

“Obesity is getting worse in every state and especially concerning is severe obesity, which used to be pretty rare and now will be the most common category for a lot of states and subgroups across the country,” said Zachary Ward, a Ph.D. candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are high. The annual nationwide productive costs of obesity obesity-related absenteeism range between $3.38 billion ($79 per obese individual) and $6.38 billion ($132 per individual with obesity)

A recent study from JAMA confirmed that the recently noted rise in prescription drug use is directly linked to diseases related to obesity. Three out of five Americans now take a prescription drug, with the majority of prescriptions written for antidepressants and medications to treat high cholesterol and diabetes.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine report a strong correlation between the rise in obesity and a striking drop in the amount of time Americans spend exercising when not at work over the last 22 years.  Their analysis uncovered no evidence that American’s have increased their daily calorie count in the same time period.

Despite all the health benefits of physical activity, people worldwide are doing less of it-at work, at home, and as they travel from place to place. Globally, about one in three people get little, if any, physical activity. Physical activity levels are declining not only in wealthy countries, such as the U.S. but also in low- and middle-income countries, such as China. And it’s clear that this decline in physical activity is a key contributor to the global obesity epidemic, and in turn, to rising rates of chronic disease everywhere.

So it’s clear that while the media, politicians, and Americans rally against the high cost of drug prices they show little interest in taking steps to cut their reliance on prescription drugs. Today more than 100 million adults — almost half the entire adult population — have pre-diabetes or diabetes. Cardiovascular disease afflicts about 122 million people and causes roughly 840,000 deaths each year, or about 2,300 deaths each dayThree in four adults are overweight or obese. More Americans are sick, in other words, than are healthy.

In addition, obesity is leading to an increase in cancer. The only liver disease becoming more widespread in the U.S. is one driven by obesity and diabetes, even as other types of liver disorders linked to drinking or hepatitis are becoming less common, researchers say.

By not directly addressing the situation the AMA, politicians, insurers and the media are doing all of us a huge disservice. I once again believe that we need to lunch a national educational program to warn the public about the health risks and costs of obesity. Do to obesity what we did for smoking.