Watch Out #1

Today was my first foray into radio. I have a segment, monthly, on the Politically Active radio program that features Jamie Atkinson, George Scione and J.J. Huggins.

Here is the full text of todays segment on Health issues;

An old English proverb and rhyme dating back to 1639 is:
Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.

Federal State and local budget officials hear, “Cut the fat out”, repeatedly.

We are bombarded with jokes, and metaphors and idioms all about fat.

It is no longer a joke. More and more we hear that obesity is becoming a national epidemic.
Obesity is a medical condition used to describe body weight that is much greater than what is considered healthy.
If you are obese, you have a much higher amount of body fat than lean muscle mass.
Body mass index (BMI), is a measurement which compares proportions of weight and height.
A simple search on Google or any other internet search engine soon pulls up hundreds of sites with data and information about this issue.
Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with increasing prevalence in adults and children, and authorities view it as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century
The primary treatment for obesity is dieting and physical exercise
The Department of Health Policy & Management at Emory University School of Public Health has published a tome that headlines, “Put the Obesity Epidemic at the Top of the Agenda”, which recently caught my attention.
The study finds that:
• By 2018, 103 million American adults — or 43 percent of the population — will be considered obese;
• US spending on health care costs attributable to obesity will quadruple – to $344 billion – over that same period; and,
• By 2018, obesity will account for more than 21 percent of health care spending.
Obesity is historically linked to about one third of the increase in domestic health spending since the mid-1980s and is a key factor in the rise in private insurance premiums, Medicare and Medicaid spending. These new findings show there’s no question that as a nation, we need to take action — and fast — to control our weight.
What issues does this create medically?
The risks of many medical complications increase with increasing body mass index. These medical complications lead to premature mortality in obese persons. In people who had never smoked, the lowest point of the mortality curve occurred at a body mass index of 23.5 to 24.9 in men and 22.0 to 23.4 in women.
Blood pressure is clearly strongly correlated with BMI. studies have shown that obesity increases the risk of developing hypertension
Excess weight and even modest adult weight gain substantially increase risk for hypertension: each 2.2 pound increase in weight after age 18 was associated with a 5% increase in risk for hypertension.
It is likely that the 25% increase in the prevalence of diabetes in the last 20 years in the United States (9) is due to the marked increase in the prevalence of obesity. Body mass index, abdominal fat distribution, and weight gain are important risk factors for type 2 diabetes
The most widely disseminated CDC research statistics on American obesity tell us that 63% of adult Americans have a Body Mass Index (BMI) in excess of 25.0 and are therefore overweight; more than a quarter surpass 30.0, having been declared obese. Perhaps the most riveting statistics concern obesity in kids: research shows that childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past two decades.

So what does this have to do with our local government, since that is my primary focus.
One of the largest causes of Fiscal problems in the recent past is the explosion in health care costs.
Are we implementing any strategies to reduce those costs over time? What recommendations can be found?

Key recommendations for addressing obesity within health reform include:
• Ensuring every adult and child has access to coverage for preventive medical services, including nutrition, obesity counseling and screening for obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes;
• Increasing the number of programs available in communities, that help make nutritious foods more affordable.
• Provide safe and healthy places for people to engage in physical activity;
• promote proven programs that improve nutrition and increase physical activity among adults ages 55 to 64.
• Increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of physical activity;
• Improve access to safe and healthy places to live, work, learn, and play;
• Limit employee computer screen time; and
• Encourage employers to provide workplace wellness programs.
So what needs to be done at the local level?
Get invested in promoting wellness. Providing incentives for health and wellness programs is a terrific start,
Studies show that only 25% of employees participate in many wellness programs.
We must offer financial incentives to employees for lowering cholesterol, losing weight or stopping smoking,
Financial incentives can include gift certificates and premium discounts or surcharges or they may lower premiums, lower copays, flex credits, cash contributions to health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) or health savings accounts (HSAs), gifts and merchandise discounts
We should encourage filling out a health risk appraisal and working on individual health care plans, not on issues related to health, disability status or family history.
The most effective incentive is lowering health insurance premiums for employees who participate in wellness initiatives because it directly connects to the message that you want employees to be healthier.

Offer premium differentials to employees who report healthy behaviors or who participate in a wellness program to improve existing health behaviors..

Roll the cost of your wellness program into your employee health insurance premiums.

Work with local businesses to offer discounts based on success in exercise programs and weight control.

If we do not take proactive steps to control health care costs, we will all lose.

We need to be open about our self funded health care plans and share the costs. More importantly we need to share good healthy attitudes and programs that make our employees more healthy for themselves their families and the community they serve.

Keep your eyes open. Until next time stay informed.

admin posted at 2009-11-24 Category: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

(Ctrl + Enter)