Published on May 10, 2012 at 2:47 AM
John Cawley is a professor of policy analysis and management and of economics at Cornell University. He is also co-director of Cornell's Institute on Health Economics, Health Behaviors and Disparities, and has served on advisory boards and expert panels for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Health Economics, Cawley estimates that the U.S. spends $190.2 billion annually treating adult obesity, representing 20.6 percent of all health expenditures (http://bit.ly/uhcEDr).
He comments on this week's CDC report predicting 40 percent of American adults will be obese by 2030.
"A silver lining to this cloud is that the spillover costs of obesity have led various stakeholders to conclude that helping obese individuals lose weight can be a win-win proposition. For example, the Humana health insurance company has implemented the Vitality program that offers enrollees, in exchange for healthy behaviors, reward points that can be cashed in for prizes.
"Various employers are implementing workplace wellness programs - such as financial rewards for weight loss - in order to lower health care costs and employee absenteeism. In addition, websites such as StickK.com and HealthyWage.com allow individuals to bet on their future weight loss, in order to motivate dieting and physical activity.
"Obesity is a significant economic problem, but the potential savings represent an incentive for innovation and partnership. Thus, economics offers potential solutions to obesity."
Source: Cornell University