Obesity in America is a staggering public health crisis, ravaging our population, hampering the quality of life for millions and wreaking fiscal havoc along the way.
We can rightly place some blame on obvious culprits we encounter every day: super-sized drinks, processed foods and obscene portion sizes. But my time as the Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has led me to a more startling and less apparent conclusion: our health-care system is keeping us from turning back obesity in America.
Each year in our country, the wide variety of obesity-related diseases (ranging from muscle and joint problems to diabetes to heart disease to cancer) result in an estimated 400,000 deaths and $190 billion in health care costs—nearly 21% of all medical spending. In the past 35 years, the prevalence of obesity jumped from 15% of the population to 35%.