Examining the Cost of Obesity

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- As your weight goes up, so does your cost.

The Journal of Pediatrics estimates that it costs an additional $19,000 for an obese child during the course of his or her life. That amount only accounts for the direct medical cost, including things like trips to the doctor and medication.

Nationwide, that adds up to $14 billion for the number of obese 10-year-olds.

Dr. Kurtis Sauder with Valley Pediatric Group said that high cost comes from the problems that obesity brings as children age.

"When you think about all the laboratory work and testing and medications that could be related to having Type 2 diabetes or heart problems and that sort of thing as an adult, those numbers don't surprise me that it would be expensive, a lot of extra expense," said Sauder.

If you think it's a problem that doesn't impact you, you might want to think again because the medical costs that stem from others' bulging bodies can also take the bulge right out of your wallet.

"We all share in medical costs, as a population, whether it's private insurance or publicly-funded health insurance, the cost goes somewhere," said Sauder.

He said other costs, like diabetes, heart disease and stroke are preventable by making sure your kids go outside to play and by limiting how much junk food and sugary drinks they can have.

"The habits you develop as a child you're likely to carry on with you the rest of your life. So you want to establish good health habits from the start," said Sauder.

Recent CDC numbers show slight drops in childhood obesity, but still nearly one fifth of all children between 6 and 19 are obese.

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