Today, two-thirds of U.S. adults and nearly one in three children struggle because they are overweight or have obesity.  The effects of the nation’s obesity epidemic are immense:  taxpayers, businesses, communities and individuals spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year due to obesity, including nearly $200 billion in medical costs.  Obesity is the reason that the current generation of youth is predicted to live a shorter life than their parents.  Much can be done to reverse the epidemic, yet important opportunities to tackle obesity at the national policy level -- including changes that enable more Americans to eat healthy and be active, as well as those that provide appropriate medical treatment for patients -- have gone largely unmet.  The Campaign works to fill this gap.  By bringing together leaders from across industry, academia and public health with policymakers and their advisors, the Campaign provides the information and guidance that decision-makers need to make policy changes that will reverse one of the nation’s costliest and most prevalent diseases.

Childhood obesity more expensive than a year of college
San Francisco Gate, 4.16.14
The toll childhood obesity takes on Americans' lifelong health is well documented, but new research from Duke University looks at its lifetime monetary price tag. Spoiler: The per-person cost for medical care is more than a year of college. Duke researchers considered the current and future prices of doctor visits, medication and treatment for conditions linked to obesity, like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. They determined that, over a lifetime, an obese child who grows into an obese adult will spend $19,000 more in medical care than a normal-weight child who maintains normal weight as an adult. Scientists acknowledge that many normal-weight children will gain weight in adulthood and their medical costs will rise. But even when they factored in those increases, obese children still had $12,900 more in lifetime costs. The researchers published their findings online this month in the journal Pediatrics.

Bikers, walkers make for healthier cities, report finds
USA Today, 4.17.14
Levels of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are lower in cities where a higher percentage of commuters bicycle or walk to work, and cities where drivers get used to sharing the road with bikers and walkers generally have lower rates of pedestrian and bike fatalities. Those are among the findings of a report released Wednesday that is based on data from 2011 and 2012, from the Alliance for Biking and Walking. The Washington, D.C.-based non-profit's Benchmarking Report biennially documents bicycling and walking trends in all 50 states, in the nation's 50 most populous cities and in 17 mid-size cities. They found that Memphis (36.8%) and Detroit (33%) have the highest levels of obesity among large cities and also some of the lowest bicycling and walking rates — 2.1% and 3.4%, respectively. Conversely, San Francisco and Oakland had the lowest combined obesity rate at 18.6% and above-average walking and biking rates, 13.1% for San Francisco and 6.7% for Oakland.

Diabetes doubles over two decades
CNN, 4.14.14
The prevalence of diabetes in the United States has nearly doubled in the past two decades, according to a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study authors found that this rise in diabetes from 5.5% to 9.3% of the U.S. population over the last 20 years paralleled the growing rate of obesity in America. Better screening tools such as a hemoglobin A1c diagnostic test have also helped physicians identify more diabetes cases, the researchers say. In 1988, about 16% of individuals who met the criteria for diabetes were not diagnosed by a physician. That number fell to 11% in 2010. Because the total number of diabetics in the United States has increased to nearly 21 million, the study authors say the number of estimated undiagnosed cases - around 2.3. million - has remained the same over the last two decades.

Obesity Studies Tell Two Stories, Both Right
The New York Times, 4.14.14
Researchers at the University of North Carolina published a paper last week that introduced another wrinkle into the debate about childhood obesity. They disputed recent findings that obesity among young children had fallen since 2004, arguing that a longer view — using data all the way back to 1999 — showed that these youngsters were not really getting any thinner. So which view is correct? The answer seems to be both. Obesity has become a major health problem in the United States, affecting about 17 percent of Americans ages 2 to 19, up from about 5 percent in the early 1970s. The rate rose for years but then leveled off, and the current debate centers on whether obesity has begun to decline in the youngest of these children. The question has drawn considerable attention not just because scientists disagree on the answer, but also because it has a political dimension: The issue has been vigorously championed by Michelle Obama, the first lady.

Opinion: Fight obesity with Medicare
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4.15.14
By Tommy G. Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin and U.S. secretary of health and human services and Kenneth Thorpe, chair at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. More than nine months after the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease, we still are not using all of the tools available to help reduce this costly — and deadly — condition. In fact, federal law overtly prohibits Medicare from paying for patients’ obesity medications — even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two medicines as safe and effective for the treatment of obesity. That is a mistake, and Congress must change that as soon as possible. In Pennsylvania, more than 29 percent of residents are obese — and the problem is only growing. Obesity is more than an appearance or lifestyle issue. It has very real consequences, as our growing obesity problem is causing more and more chronic diseases. Those chronic diseases are killing more and more of our family members and putting a massive strain on our health system.

Ribble, Pocan team up on long-term approach to medical research funding
Green Bay Press-Gazette, 4.9.14
Rep. Reid Ribble calls himself a “budgeteer” and can often be heard ruminating on the fiscal benefits of such banal-sounding topics as inter-modal transportation. So when the Green Bay-area Republican decided to tackle the issues of chronic diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s, he approached it as a number-cruncher. The product of his work — the “Long-Term Studies of Comprehensive Outcomes and Returns for the Economy Act” — was slated to be introduced Wednesday. The bill would provide $5 million annually to create and run a division within the Congressional Budget Office that would focus on predicting the costs — and benefits — of legislation in the long term, say 20, 30 or even 40 years out. The intent is that those predictions would show that investing in areas like medical research pays for itself in the long run.

'Childhood obesity costs $19,000 per child,' researchers say
Medical News Today, 4.7.14
According to the latest estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of kids and adolescents in the US are overweight or obese. And now, researchers looking at total lifetime medical costs have estimated that, per head, childhood obesity costs $19,000 more than lifetime costs for normal weight children. The researchers, led by Eric Andrew Finkelstein, PhD, MHA, from the Duke Global Health Institute and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, publish their results in the journal Pediatrics. "Reducing childhood obesity is a public health priority that has substantial health and economic benefits," says Finkelstein. "These estimates provide the financial consequences of inaction and the potential medical savings from obesity prevention efforts that successfully reduce or delay obesity onset."



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