What is the Cost of an Unhealthy Weight?
Losing Weight Helps with More than Just Your Looks.
We live in the land of plenty. We are so fortunate to have almost any food item we want within our grasp. Because of this plentiful bounty, we also have a dilemma of excess.
This dilemma shows itself in many forms. One example is carrying too much weight, which is at an all-time high. I have discussed my weight loss journey, where I lost 90 pounds 15 years ago. Unfortunately, back then, I gave in to the lure of excess. I let it go too far.
The World Health Organization defines obesity as an accumulation of body fat that risks one’s health.(1) These health risks are commonly presented as high cholesterol, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The number of people at an unhealthy weight is at an all-time high. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2018, 42.4% of the US population was obese, compared to 30.4% in 1999. The percentage of severely obese went from 4.7% to 9.2%.(2)
Health issues related to carrying too much weight are the leading cause of preventable deaths. Being overweight can be related to one or more medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and some cancers such as liver, colon, and breast cancers. These conditions cost each person more money in medical expenses each year.(4,5,6)
I was one of these people. Over 15 years ago, I was carrying too much body fat. It caused me to have high blood pressure and cholesterol. I was on medications to keep them in the ”normal” range. I was also borderline diabetic.
As a nurse, I knew better. I knew my weight had put me in this situation and was deteriorating my health.
It is proven and well-established that many of these conditions can be reversed with dietary changes.(3,5,6) This is good news. Quite frankly, this is amazing. There are not many situations where you can completely turn something around.
That is when I decided to reduce my weight. I did it, and those medical conditions went away. I was able to come off all my medications. I have kept the weight off for 15 years. I can show you how to do it too.
If you act now, you can potentially totally reverse these health conditions and stop taking the associated medications. That will save your body from the unwanted side effects of those medicines, and it will save you money.
The bad news is that the longer you are in an unhealthy state, the more difficult it is for the body to reverse any damage caused over the years.(3,5) Any damage the high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes have done to the body can potentially be healed.
Unfortunately, if it has gone on for a long time, there could be irreversible damage. The silver lining here is if you make changes now, you will not be causing any more harm to yourself, and there is a high potential to heal.
What is the cost of continuing to eat the way you do?
There is no time like the present to move toward a healthier weight. On average, an overweight person spends about an additional $1500 per year on medical costs.(2) Compare that amount to the increased food cost of eating healthy, which is $550 per person per WebMD.(7)
If you lose weight and get your health in a better state, you will save just under $1000 per person per year. So, contrary to popular belief, it is cheaper to eat healthy if you consider medical expenses.
(1) World Health Organization. (n.d.). Obesity. World Health Organization. Retrieved August 24, 2022, from https://www.who.int/health-topics/obesity#tab=tab_1
(2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, November 10). US Obesity Data & Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/index.html
(3) AlGhatrif, Majd. “News Release Archive.” Losing Weight Sooner Rather than Later Gives the Best Chance of Reversing Heart Damage from Obesity, According to Study, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Based in Baltimore, Maryland, 4 Mar. 2013, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/losing_weight_sooner_rather_than_later_gives_the_best_chance_of_reversing_heart_damage_from_obesity_according_to_study) .
(4) Ioannis, Kyrou. “Clinical Problems Caused by Obesity.” National Library of Medicine, Endotext, 11 Jan. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278973/ .
(5) Khaodhiar L, McCowen KC, Blackburn GL. Obesity and its comorbid conditions. Clin Cornerstone. 1999;2(3):17–31. doi: 10.1016/s1098–3597(99)90002–9. PMID: 10696282. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10696282/
(6) Haase CL, Lopes S, Olsen AH, Satylganova A, Schnecke V, McEwan P. Weight loss and risk reduction of obesity-related outcomes in 0.5 million people: evidence from a UK primary care database. Int J Obes (Lond). 2021 Jun;45(6):1249–1258. doi: 10.1038/s41366–021–00788–4. Epub 2021 Mar 3. PMID: 33658682; PMCID: PMC8159734. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33658682/
(7) Griffin, R. M. (2017, February 7). Is healthy eating more expensive? WebMD. Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/features/healthy-food-cost