U.S. obesity costs soar as nation packs on pounds

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(CBS News) Obesity is rising in America, that's no secret - but are people aware of the rising economic costs of those extra pounds? According to a new study from the Campaign to End Obesity, spending due to obesity is actually twice the amount previously estimated - and exceeds the costs of even smoking, Reuters reports.

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What's more, those medical costs affect everyone, not just those who are obese. Higher health insurance premiums lead everyone to cover those extra medical costs. The U.S. spends an excess of $190 billion a year, the study found.

Obesity results in physical changes outside of individuals' waistlines - from wider stadium seats to sturdier, floor-mounted toilets (in comparison to the wall-mounted kind), businesses need to spend more to accommodate widening bodies.

The Daily Mail reported at the country's fourth largest hospital at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, administrators have had to widen doors, replace wall-mounted toilets with floor models able to hold more than 250 pounds, bought plus-size wheelchairs (costing double the price of a regular model) as well as get mini-cranes to hoist obese patients out of bed.

Cars burn nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than they did in 1960, due to heavier passengers and in the skies, fuel costs have risen to carry carry heavier customers. Not to mention the skyrocketing costs of missed work days from people taking off because of poor health.  The impact of obesity is everywhere.

"Smoking added about 20 percent a year to medical costs," Dr. James Naessens, researcher at the Mayo Clinic, told Reuters. "Obesity was similar, but morbid obesity increased those costs by 50 percent a year."

Reuters has more on the rising costs of obesity.

  • Monica DyBuncio

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