Obesity Costing California Billions

Obesity is adding to the economic crisis in California, according to a new study from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. The report proves that inactivity and excess weight is driving up healthcare costs and slowing workplace productivity, costing the state billions.

heavy population 3_jpgMoving to the West Coast, things just keep getting less golden for the Golden State. Not only is the state of California facing bankruptcy and sky-high unemployment – now it seems that obesity is having an economic impact, too.

A brand-new report from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, called “The Economic Costs of Overweight, Obesity and Physical Inactivity Among California Adults,” found that excess weight and physical inactivity among Californians is taking a toll on the state’s economy.

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The report breaks the cost to the state down into categories. First, the direct health care costs associated with obesity, overweight, and physical inactivity in California, which came to $20.7 billion. Then there’s the toll from lost workplace productivity – about $20.4 billion. Add it all together and it comes to quite a tidy sum: over $41 billion in 2006, an amount that’s almost certainly greater now.

Obviously, something has to be done – not only because obesity and its related conditions ruin the lives of millions of Californians, but because the economic burden associated with overweight, obesity and physical inactivity are adding to the financial mess already plaguing the Golden State.

The study group recommends a three-part strategy to fight the obesity problem in California. At the federal level, the group advocates making public health and disease prevention a core element of an overall national health care strategy, including the creation of a federally-funded trust to finance community-based healthy eating and physical activity programs.

At the state level, the study groups advocates using the state’s share of the 2009 stimulus package money to build more pedestrian and biking infrastructure, improve nutrition and physical activity infrastructure in California school.

And California’s counties and cities should help increase physical activity by eliminating sprawl, building more facilities for recreational exercise, and promoting the creation of community gardens as a source of fresh food. All good ideas for people in any state.

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