As the obesity problem in America grows, an alarmingly significant increase in childhood obesity has become a large part of the problem. According to recently released figures from the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
- The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
- In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
There is a prevailing viewpoint in the medical feild, and society in general, that obesity is a problem that is beyond our control. Everywhere you turn there is a new study that blames America’s obesity problem on some external factor.
- Former FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler argues that modern food is addictive.
- Recently, in the Journal of Health Economics, University of Illinois researchers join a long list of analysts who blame urban sprawl for obesity.
- Former Carter administration advisor Amitai Etzioni argued that it’s so hard for Americans to keep weight off that adults should simply give up and focus attention on the young instead.
- A recently released Ohio study, using mice, suggests “fine-particulate air pollution” could be causing a rise in obesity rates.
As a physician, becoming part of a physician referral network is one of the best things you can do for your medical practice. You’ll build relationships that will help ensure the success of your practice even as other sources of revenue evaporate due to changes in the economy and health care system. You can either join an existing referral network or, if you prefer, create one of your own by seeking out and cultivating relationships with other physicians.
If you join an existing network, you’ll have to evaluate it carefully to determine whether or not it meets your needs. To maximize referrals, be sure there are relatively few physicians in your specialty within the network. Make sure the network conforms to patient rules and laws and that the software or platform is easy for your staff to use.
Let’s use the definition of alcoholism provided by the AMA approved by the Boards of Directors of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (February 3, 1990) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (February 25, 1990).:
“Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial."
Can you substitute the word ‘obesity’ for ‘alcoholism’ and ‘eating’ for ‘drinking’ and still make to definition accurate? Most patients dealing with obesity and healthcare professionals treating obesity would clearly answer the question with a resounding ‘YES’.
No matter how you look at it, the cost of the ever increasing obesity epidemic in America is huge. From the extra expense incurred by Medicare recipients, to the increased costs for private insurers, to the higher costs for hospitals and emergency services, the cost of overweight Americans is growing out of proportion. What are the numbers associated with the obesity in America?
Keeping in mind that if you torture statistics enough they will tell you anything; let’s look at some numbers that the government has released concerning the cost of obesity to the American pocketbook.
The following is taken directly from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website:
Obesity is common, serious and costly.
- About one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese.
- No state has met the nation's Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity prevalence to 15%. The number of states with an obesity prevalence of 30% or more has increased to 12 states in 2010. In 2009, nine states had obesity rates of 30% or more.In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more.
- Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of death.
- In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs paid by third-party payers for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.