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Duke Medicine: Keeping obesity rates level could save billions

Posted June 25, 2012

Researchers have forecast the cost savings and rise in obesity prevalence over the next two decades in a new public health study.

"Keeping obesity rates level could yield a savings of nearly $550 billion in medical expenditures over the next two decades," according to lead author Eric Finkelstein, PhD, associate research professor in the Duke Global Health Institute, as well as deputy director in the Health Services Research Program at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.

The forecasting study also found that 42 percent of the U.S. population could be obese by 2030.

The findings suggest the U.S. health care system could be burdened with 32 million more obese people within two decades. Action is needed to keep rates from increasing further, according to the research from Duke University, RTI International, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study also forecasts an increase in the number of individuals with severe obesity, with rates rising to 11 percent by 2030. Severe obesity is defined as a body mass index over 40 or roughly 100 pounds overweight.

Severely obese individuals are at highest risk for the health conditions caused by excess weight, resulting in substantially greater medical expenditures and rates of absenteeism.

For more information about the study, read the full article at DukeHealth.org. Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health information and tips every Tuesday.

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