Future of Medicare Threatened by Obesity Rates

Susan Farley
Published Online: Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Current trends in obesity rates among young people are threatening the US Medicare system, as large health bills are anticipated when this generation reaches old age. Findings of a recent report from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University showed that men who are severely obese cost the Medicare system $6469 more per year than men who are not overweight.Among women, the difference is $5618 more for obese women than for women who were not overweight. Among the current population aged 65 years and older, about 12% are considered obese.That statistic is likely to increase to 20% by 2050. It is well documented that obesity can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that can put a strain on the country's health resources. The researchers concluded, "With current trends of increasing overweight and obesity afflicting all age groups, urgent preventive measures are required not only to lessen the burden of disease and disability associated with excess weight but also to contain future health care costs incurred by the aging population."

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.



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