From: Andy Soos, ENN.com
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems. Obviously there are costs associated with obesity usually long term health costs.
A recent Canadian study confirms that physical inactivity is a major contributor to chronic disease and health care spending in
Specifically, 15% to 39% of the 7 chronic diseases examined were attributable
to physical inactivity.
The 2009 estimates indicate that the total annual economic burden of physical inactivity in Canadian adults was $6.8 billion, which represented 3.8% of the overall health care costs.
Dieting and physical exercise are the mainstays of treatment for obesity. Diet quality can be improved by reducing the consumption of energy-dense foods such as those high in fat and sugars, and by increasing the intake of dietary fiber.
Anti-obesity drugs may be taken to reduce appetite or inhibit fat absorption together with a suitable diet. If diet, exercise and medication are not effective, a gastric balloon may assist with weight loss, or surgery may be performed to reduce stomach volume and/or bowel length, leading to earlier satiation and reduced ability to absorb nutrients from food.
A 2006 review identified ten other possible obesity contributors in addition to lack of exercise and too much food intake:
(1) insufficient sleep,
(2) endocrine disruptors (environmental pollutants that interfere with lipid metabolism),
(3) decreased variability in ambient temperature,
(4) decreased rates of smoking, because smoking suppresses appetite,
(5) increased use of medications that can cause weight gain (e.g., atypical antipsychotics),
(6) proportional increases in ethnic and age groups that tend to be heavier,
(7) pregnancy at a later age,
(8) epigenetic risk factors passed on generationally,
(9) natural selection for higher Body Mass Index, and
(10) assortative mating.
While there is substantial evidence supporting the influence of these mechanisms on the increased prevalence of obesity, the evidence is still inconclusive.
In addition to
Canada, population-level data on the economic
burden of physical inactivity have been presented for Australia (7% of total health burden) (Begg et
al. 2007), Switzerland (1.8%
of total direct costs) (Martina et al. 2001), the United
Kingdom (1.5% of total direct costs) (Allender et al.
2007), and the United States
(2.4% of total direct costs) (Colditz 1999).
The proportional physical inactivity costs estimates for
presented in the current study (3.7% of overall and direct costs) fall within
the range of values found in these countries.
The discrepancies across countries can be explained by several factors, such as differences in the prevalence of physical inactivity, differences in the health care systems (e.g., public vs. private health care), and different methodological approaches for estimating economic costs.
For further information see Physical Inactivity.