The Affordable Care Act, first disparagingly referred to as Obamacare and now adopted as its accepted moniker, is the most sweeping and dramatic health care legislation since Medicare. It’s also one of the more divisive.
Proponents say it will bring health care costs down through wider preventative care; opponents say it is intrusive and sets us up for a new bloated federal bureaucracy.
One of the most important tasks in preventative care and health care cost-reduction is addressing the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the direct and indirect medical care costs of obesity in the U.S. in 2008 was $147 billion. While obesity rates have leveled in recent years, long-term projections are still grim, with the possibility of nearly half of all Americans being obese by 2030. One report projects the majority of states will be over the 50 percent level.
While there are many myths about Obamacare, one of the better known facts about the legislation is that it will eliminate insurance companies’ ability to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. But it’s not the utopian “health care for all” scenario some critics may think. Companies are able to more aggressively reward employees for achieving preset wellness goals, and conversely, saddling those who don’t make an effort to improve their health with higher premiums.
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Health experts are giving sugar a reprieve in the case against obesity. While sugar and its many processed variations are running amok in the food we eat at home or away, fats, oils, flour and cereal are more to blame for America’s continuous bloat.
According to the CDC, 25.6% of Americans have a BMI greater than thirty, firmly planting them into the obese category. Since we tend to lie about how tall we are and how much we weigh, the figure is probably a bit generous, but it’s a 10.3% increase since 20 years ago, and that’s alarming.
A New York Times article reports that Americans are consuming 448 more daily calories— or 20% more—than they were in 1970. The Department of Agriculture says 242 of those calories are from fats and oils, 167 are from flour and cereal, and only 35 are from sugars.
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With the United States’ Hispanic population growing in number, it is becoming increasingly important to focus on the health and well-being of that community. Obesity is an epidemic concerning all Americans, but it is an especially concerning one for Hispanics and Mexican Americans who collectively have an obesity rate of about 40%, according to the CDC.
This high rate can be attributed to many factors. Several studies have shown the strong correlation between poverty and obesity. The CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report for 2011 found that the greatest racial/ethnic disparity in income and education existed for Hispanics. That there is a higher likelihood for obesity in a lower income situation can be found in both men and women.
However, adults are not the only members of the Hispanic and Mexican-American populations with significantly higher obesity rates. The rate in children is alarmingly high as well – about 23 percent of Hispanic children compared to the 16 percent rating of their Non-Hispanic white counterparts. Reducing obesity in children is particularly important as being overweight at a young age can lead to a litany of health issues.
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