Obesity epidemic proves costly for taxpayers

NORWICH – Without strong action to reverse the obesity epidemic, children may face a shorter lifespan than their parents for the first time in our history, according to a recent statement from the New York State Department of Health. Adding to the dilemma, recent findings suggest that rising obesity rates pose significant threats toward improving health outcomes and controlling state healthcare costs.

A recent report from the NY Comptroller’s Office indicates that as childhood obesity rises, so too do healthcare costs for taxpayers. Total obesity costs in the state are more than $11.8 billion annually ($327 million for young people alone), a figure continually driven even higher as the percentage of overweight or obese children in the state tops 32 percent, or 1.4 million in the state. Obesity related expenditures for children are a small part of those costs, say health experts, but childhood and adolescence is the time when people develop long-term eating and exercise habits.

“Obesity is definitely an epidemic,” said Scott Cohen, M.D. at Bassett Healthcare Network in Norwich. “The increased rate of adult onset diabetes has gotten very costly ... Longterm, we’re seeing a lot more hip and knee replacements and the number of diabetics has gone through the roof.”

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