(KCPW News) Utahns who are packing on the pounds will cost the state billions of additional dollars in health care over the next few years if obesity trends continue, according to a new study by the Utah Department of Health. The report says if the rate doesn’t stabilize, Utah’s obesity related health care expenses will be about $2.4 billion by 2018, a nearly $2 billion increase. Rebecca Fronberg, Program Manager for the Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity program at the Utah Department of Health, says while Utah appears to be stabilizing, national obesity rates continue to show an upward trend.
“Even if we stabilize, we’re at a much higher than we were say, when the obesity epidemic began which is back in 1980, is when they can track it to,” she says. “Although Utah is not super high compared to other states, we do have an obesity rate of 23 percent.”
And Fronberg says there are plenty of other side effects to high obesity rates besides the monetary cost to the health care system.
“You’re looking at loss of productivity for work sites. Businesses are not only having to pay more in health care costs for their own employees for insurance, but they’re also having more people be sick and not being able to report to work or because of obesity related issues, not being productive when they are at the worksite.”
Fronberg says the state has a nutrition and physical activity plan to improve policies and environments that will help make personal choices like diet and exercise easier. For a link to that plan, visit our website at KCPW-dot-o-r-g.