How much does obesity cost?

I’ve heard all the excuses.

“It’s too expensive to eat healthy”
“I can’t afford a gym membership
“I don’t have time”

I’ll shut down those arguments with a few facts that will blow your mind. More than 1/3 of our nation is considered obese. How much does obesity cost? Let’s take a look at the costs of a few obesity-related procedures. You tell me what’s more costly…

Total hip replacement
Average cost: $51,594
Range: ($38,612 – $86,716)

Total knee replacement
Average cost:  $46,679
Range: ($24,482 – $81,549)

Right Heart Catheterization
This is a procedure where a fine hollow tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery, usually through the groin area, passing it to the heart.

Average cost: $11,020
Range: ($10,024 – $12,296)

Left Heart Catheterization
Average cost: $11,384
Range: ($6,240 – $48,178)

I see so many patients in my hospital’s rehab unit who are overweight or obese. Their knees and hips cannot take the weight and they have to be replaced. The sad part is that unless they lose weight with their new knees or hips… it’s only a matter of time before the new become old and worn again. There are a few common factors I’ve identified when assessing these patients’ lifestyles:

Shake it like a salt shaker
The diet contains many foods that are high sodium and fat. Why? The majority of the food consumed is processed. Home cookin’ has lost its touch.

I (don’t) like to move it move it
Other than the walk from from the parking lot to the office, there’s not much exercise involved. Exercise helps to lower blood pressure & cholesterol and promotes bone strength from weight-bearing exercise. It makes sense why my patients don’t work out because it hurts their knees/hips to workout. It doesn’t make sense why we can’t prevent this from happening by getting our heart rate up even just a few days a week.

Zombie apocalypse
Habitual routines involve food. Some eat out of boredom. Some eat when the TV is on. Some eat while on the computer. Some didn’t realize they were eating while reading this article until I mentioned it 😉

Depending on the type of gym you want to join, it can be costly. However, there are endless options for exercise without a gym. I recently found an awesome free app called Nike Training Club and I’ve loved working out at home on days I don’t want to drive to the gym. Sure, it’s easier to swing by the drive through than slave in the kitchen, but there are many online resources that offer quick, easy, cheap, and healthy recipes. For every excuse you come up with, I will respond “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

What is one practical step you can take to start planning ahead to make sure your health stays a high priority? It could be looking at your schedule a week ahead and writing in workout times. You make all of your doctors appointments and coffee dates with friends, why would miss a workout appointment? Maybe you could start by taking a half hour this Sunday to come up with meal ideas and a grocery list to avoid spontaneous visits to the drive through. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive, but your health is something that’s highly worth investing. Now, would you like fries with that $50,000 hip?

What steps will you take to maintain or achieve good health?

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Author: budgetforhealth

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian and shares practical, useful tips on food, fitness and finance. Be sure to subscribe to her blog, Budget for Health!

7 thoughts on “How much does obesity cost?”

  1. Yes, it’s such a big expense and just not prioritized very much in our society. Even when the medical costs aren’t paid personally, there’s still high costs personally in lifestyle, pain, and longevity.
    Now, if I could find the magic motivation to get my spouse to get back in shape…!
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..Movember Wrap Up

    1. You’re right. There are a lot of indirect costs as well. I remember the guy from the documentary “Fat, sick and nearly dead” said it felt amazing to be able to play with his kid without getting out of breath once he lost a lot of weight. Planning out meals for the week and going for walks may be a great start for hubs.

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