When you’re feeling unwell, it’s tempting to turn to Dr. Google. He’s accessible, there’s no copay or wait time, and he offers instant appointments! Having a lot of anxiety about being sick is natural, we even have a name for it – illness anxiety. Unfortunately, he usually arrives with bad news… That cough you’ve had for the last two days… Dr. Google says it must be lung cancer. The diarrhea that won’t seem to go away… oh that’s definitely colon cancer. And what does Dr. Google say about that sore toe? Oh, that’s probably lung cancer too. Of course, I’m being facetious here.
But there are ways to properly use Google to take charge of your health and make the most out of your visits to the doctor. Let’s talk about some strategies and pitfalls of using Dr. Google and why it’s always important to get a second opinion from a real-life health care professional!
Steps to Combat Illness Anxiety
Don’t Do This: Google your symptoms! I know this is a tall order, but googling symptoms is just going to make that illness anxiety go through the roof! Type in cough, chest tightness, and weight loss and you’ll arrive on a search page full of lung cancer results.
Do This Instead: Make an appointment with your doctor and if you’re really worried, keep a journal about your symptoms. Each day keep track of changes, is your cough getting worse or better? How much weight are you losing each day? Are you feeling too sick to eat each day? Have you been in contact with any sick people lately? Does anything make you feel better or worse?
If You Want to Go Even Further:Get proactive with your health! Don’t wait for symptoms to start thinking about developing healthy habits. Make annual appointments with your family doctor, learn about your health insurance benefits, stay on top of essential labs like tracking your cholesterol and work with your primary doctor to setup important annual screenings. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Don’t Do This: Obsess over illnesses that run-in families. Maybe you haven’t felt well for a while. Maybe a close relative had a serious illness when they were about your age. Maybe they even passed away tragically young. Turning to Dr. Google, you then learn that they may have had XYZ disease and it runs in families! Should you panic now?! No!
Do This Instead: Make an appointment with your primary care doctor to discuss your concerns. Don’t have a primary care doctor? Now’s a great time to get one. Try to stay away from your local Urgent Care, you should be trying to establish long-term care with a physician that’s going to get to know you. After you have your appointment, talk to them about what you’re concerned about and how those concerns are impacting your life. The doctor may order further testing to help rule in or out the chances of illness.
If You Want to Go Even Further: Learn about risk factors for illnesses. For example, diabetes has a strong genetic component. Talk to your doctor, and consult legitimate sources to learn all you can. Then once you’re equipped with that knowledge you can take steps to keep yourself in good health and stay proactive. This should help reduce illness anxiety. If you’re not sure about a source of information, talk to your doctor – they can help you tell apart trustworthy and untrustworthy sources of information, they might even have some good resources of their own! Thrifty Patient is one of those good sources of information. Like our very popular articles on Major Losartan Recalls hitting the country or information about supplements like CBD, we only deliver quality information about your health.
Don’t Do This: Don’t trust miracle cures that pop up when asking Dr. Google a question. All search engines, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc use complex algorithms to direct traffic to popular and relevant content. However, what Dr. Google can’t do is tell evidence-based medicine apart from wacky theories. Abby Ohlheiser of the Washington Post recently wrote about the flood of bogus medical cures that can be found online.
Do This Instead:Empower yourself in your next discussion with your doctor by asking them how they make their treatment decisions. Most doctors will tell you that they follow evidence-based practices and keep up to date on the latest research guidelines for their specialties.
If You Want to Go Even Further: Take the evidence-based approach yourself when doing research into therapies. Then bring your evidence to your doctor. You might be surprised at how open and flexible many doctors are to try new things, especially if you can show them good research. Just remember, not all research is created equal. Click here to learn more about the Pyramid of Quality Research!
It’s important to stay on top of your health and we’re the biggest advocates of patients taking their health into their own hands. However, you need good tools if you plan on getting anywhere. Search engines like google are one of those tools that can do as much harm as good. We’d love to hear your stories about illness anxiety and if searching symptoms online helped or caused even greater illness anxiety.
On Wednesday, May 1st 2019 the Trump administration signaled it’s legally challenging the constitutionality of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA). This marks a shift from their earlier position that parts of the act were good and parts should be struck down. If the entire ACA repeal goes through, then up to 20 million people in the US are in a position to lose coverage.
The Thrifty Patient is an a-political, pro-patient organization. Our mission is to help all patients, no matter how they vote. So, instead, we’re looking at who has benefited from the ACA and how you can prepare for an ACA repeal if you are going to lose coverage.
Who Benefits the Most from the ACA?
There are 4 groups of people in particular that benefit from the ACA. If you’re one of the over 20 million in one of these groups, you would be rightly concerned about what an ACA repeal means for you.
1. People with Pre-Existing Conditions. The ACA ensured that insurance companies couldn’t deny coverage to people with costly pre-existing conditions. Here are some proposed examples of pre-existing conditions. Before the ACA, there were over 400 pre-existing conditions defined by insurance companies, the most common being Cancer, Diabetes, Pregnancy, Mental Illness, and Hepatitis.
2. Young Adults. Under the ACA coverage was extended to the age of 26. You may have noticed young people think they’re invincible. You combine this with the fact that many young people don’t have very well paying jobs until their late 20’s and you’ll find many not affording or thinking they can skip coverage.
3. Low-Income & Lower-Middle Class Families. The ACA allowed states to expand medicaid coverage to so that your household qualifies if the household’s income is below 138% the income level. Check this healthcare.gov tool to see if your state expanded coverage and your household qualifies!
4. People who Need / Use a lot of Care (Via Elimination of Lifetime Caps). One group of people who benefited tremendously was people who have required very costly cares. Before the ACA you had limits to the amount insurance would pay out to cover your bills. For people like newborn Timmy Morrison’s parents, who got a $2 million dollar medical bill – this could quickly bankrupt you. Medical bills are still the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the US, and the ACA was a step towards addressing this.
How to Prepare for an ACA Repeal
If the thought of and ACA repeal gets your heart pounding and your blood pressure skyrocketing…
First, take a deep breath. There are many steps and barriers until that’s a reality. Even if it does happen, we all hope that the politicians have learned how popular at least parts of it are, and won’t want the fallout of kicking everyone off.
Third, take stock of your finances. If you receive care for free now, what can you start saving towards medical expenses? Look into options like High Deductible Plans and Health Savings Accounts. These options are especially important to young adults, who may be aging off their parent’s plans earlier. Don’t let an ACA repeal catch your bank account flat-footed.
Fourth, begin asking about ways to save money now. There are many options out there for drug cards, generic medications, free wellness programs, and so on. Even if the repeal doesn’t go forward, you can only benefit from knowing more about your options.
Fifth, use your coverage now! Take care of those health problems NOW while your coverage is solid. If you’ve been putting off going to the dentist, do it now. If you’ve had shortness of breath, or a sore back or knees that you’ve been ignoring, now might be the best time to get them taken care of. Best case scenario, a year from now you feel better then ever and you still have your coverage.
Finally, if you feel strongly one way or the other about a repeal, take action and contact your representatives to tell them how you feel. At the Thrifty Patient we want to help empower every person to be the best advocate they can be for themselves.
12 Key Facts About the Quickest Way to Lose Weight!
Once you start thinking about wanting to lose weight, you’re faced with a scary task. How do you make sense of all the conflicting information out there? April 2019 is our month of weight loss and obesity education! We’ll be examining diet plans, work-out plans, nutrition, weight-loss groups, the science of obesity and weight-loss, and even some things you can do to make money for losing weight!
We’ve identified 12 key facts you need to know if you want to find the quickest way to lose weight. Trying to figure out the quickest way to lose weight without understanding the basics, is like trying to find the fastest way home when you’re already lost.
Being confused by how to lose weight is normal. Don’t worry, weight loss is confusing and you’re not alone. In a recent post we talked about the importance of losing weight, and how expensive it could be. However, actually losing weight can be dauntingly intimidating. When I was younger it felt simple, eat less and exercise more. Ok, to be honest, when I was younger, I had the metabolism of a humming bird and probably couldn’t gain five pounds if I ate fast food for every meal. Those days are long long gone.
Affiliate Disclaimer – This post highlights one of our affiliates – BistroMD. If you decide to purchase from them, Thrifty Patient may make some money. FYI, our affiliate policy is very strict, and we turn down partnerships that don’t meet our high health, ethical, social, and savings standards.
1. Know Your BMI
The very first piece of information you should understand is your BMI, or Body Mass Index. This will tell you if you fall into an underweight, normal, overweight, or obese category.
Why is this Important?: Trying to lose weight without knowing your BMI is trying to tell how much fuel is in your car without looking at the fuel gauge. It’s all just a guess until you take a look at the number!
2. Know That 1 Pound = 3500 Calories
There are 3500 calories (or kilocalories) in a pound. Unfortunately losing a pound isn’t as simple as just dropping 3500 calories. Among other things, you should also know what your estimated calorie count should be.
Why is this Important?: Calories are an important bridge between our food and our weight. It’s not the whole story, but an important piece in weight loss.
3. Know That Shortcuts, Fad Diets, Starvation and Exercise Alone Isn’t Enough!
The quickest way to lose weight is not by taking a shortcut. Also, sadly, exercise alone isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, the right diet, cutting down on calories, and exercising are all important. Remember, a short-term, weight-loss shortcut isn’t going to give you the lasting lasting weight-loss results you want. It’s better to make small improvements over a longer period of time.
Why is this Important?: A lot of companies will pray on people who equate weight loss with exercise or radical diets. Yet the science shows that exercise alone isn’t enough. And some of those fad diets can be questionable!
This leads us to one of the reasons we like BistroMD so much. They provide to scientifically-proven and nutritionally balanced meals.
Remember, a short-term, weight-loss shortcut isn’t going to give you the lasting lasting weight-loss results you want. It’s better to make small improvements over a longer period of time.
4. Know That It’s Not Just What You Eat!
We like to think in simple terms. I’m overweight because I eat too much. If I eat less, I’ll lose weight. This misunderstanding is probably the most important fact you need to know if you want to discover the quickest way to lose weight.
The science of food, eating, and weight loss is fairly complex. Our bodies sense if we’re not getting activity. They treat different kinds of food differently! They are regulated by complex hunger hormones and are sensitive to chronic illness and disease.
Why is this Important?: Two reasons. First of all, this fact reminds us to resist the urge to oversimplify. Second, as the saying goes ‘know thyself’. It’s always important to talk to your doctor before starting any weight loss plan. They can help you identify if you have any health concerns that’ll derail your plans!
This is another area where BistroMD really shines. Their meal plans take a complex look at nutrition and dietary needs.
5. Know How to be Mindful When Eating
How much time do you spend eating? Do you rush through your meals, like a job to be done? Do you actually take the time to experience your meals or are you too busy thinking of the next thing you need to do?
Why is this Important?: The quickest way to lose weight involves thinking about eating and dieting as an experience that involves our mind, body, social connections, and spirit. Click here to learn more about mindful eating.
6. Know Calories in < Calories Out… but…
As you learn more about dieting, don’t forget the basic mantra “Calories in should be less than calories out”. What does this mean? To lose weight, the amount you’re eating in calories should be less then the energy you’re burning and the exercise you’re doing. Remember you need to burn off 3500 calories to lose a pound. However… this doesn’t paint the whole picture. As we’ve stated earlier, it’s tempting to oversimplify and treat all calories the same. It’s obvious that 2000 calories of carrots and 2000 calories of donuts should be treated differently.
Why is this Important?: This is important to keep in mind as a general rule. But we should also be aware of its limitations. If we can be sharp enough to keep track of our calorie intake / output and wise enough to know not all calories are created equal, then we’ve taken a mighty leap along the quickest way to lose weight.
Why is this Important?: If you’re serious about losing weight, self-sabotage is going to be a daily problem. It’s very easy to fool yourself into thinking that a few hundred calories from a drink, or some fast food are just like any other calories.
8. Know That Weight Loss Requires a Whole-Body View
We don’t eat just because we’re hungry. People eat when stressed, they associate food with happy times and sad times. Can you think of a food you hated or loved eating when growing up? Do you still avoid / crave those foods now? We naturally attach psychological and social events to eating. Here’s an article from the Cleveland Clinic about the roles food plays in our lives and strategies to address the psychological aspects of food.
Why is this Important?: Dieting without anticipating the psychological or social impact creates needless barriers to success. Diets often fail, and not knowing of that failure is due to a physical, social, or a psychological barrier sets you up for future failures.
9. Know That With Plans, One Size DOES NOT Fit All
There is no one right plan or path to weight loss. You’ll read reports about diets like the Atkin’s diet and the Keto diet or about plans like BistroMD or Weight Watchers. Many people will claim that each plan is the quickest way to lose weight. But, always keep in mind that what works for others, might not work for you – and that’s fine! One of the reasons we like BistroMD is because it offers so many choices. They work to reduce the chance of failure by working with you to find a program that works the best for you.
Why is this Important?: Keep in mind that the quickest way to lose weight for OTHERS might not be the quickest path for YOU.
10. Know About Decision Paralysis
Decision paralysis is when you have so many options it’s hard to pick one – so you don’t pick any and postpone, or you pick them all and don’t get anywhere. There are so many diet options out there! Many will promise to be the quickest way to lose weight. Each will have true believers, heaps of evidence, and tons of success stories. This leads to an interesting problem. Which do you pick? Are you easily distracted and try every new diet?
Why is this Important?: Keep in mind that the quickest way to lose weight for OTHERS might not be the quickest path for YOU. Being aware of decision paralysis sets you up to create a plan to avoid it.
11. Know How to Identify Points of Failure!
Your weight loss plans are only as good as its weakest link. Do you drive past your favorite fast food place on the way to work? Are you trying to eat vegan but hate carrots? Are you starting your diet up at the same time a big audit is going on at work?
Why is this Important?: Stressors don’t make it impossible to diet, in fact if you can identify and get in front of problems, your chances of success will go way up!
12. Know When to Seek Out Support
There may be times when you hit a wall, or need advice on how to make your diet work. If you’re serious about losing weight, consider seeking out help. The quickest way to lose weight is through the hard-learned lessons of others.
CBD is short for cannabidiol that’s “Can-a-bid-eye-ol”. It’s an oil which comes from cannabis plants, but it doesn’t get you high. The high associated with Marijuana is from THC, an entirely different chemical.
2. How are CBD and THC Different?
Another way of answering our initial question, “What is CBD oil?” is to say what it’s not. CBD and THC are not the same in two major ways. Look at how the two chemicals are different. At the bottom you’ll notice a one-atom difference between both of them.
What’s the big deal about one atom?
A LOT! Everyone knows that atoms are tiny things, but even changing the place of a single atom makes them have very different effects on the body.
That brings us to the second difference. Chemicals like THC and CBD work because they bind to receptors in the body. CBD binds to a receptor scientists call CB2. THC binds to receptors called CB1. This sets CBD oil apart from marijuana-containing compounds that have THC.
3. CBD Oil Won’t Give you a High
Remember CB2 receptors, the ones that CBD oil effects? Well, they’re found mainly outside the brain. Because of this, they simply don’t have the psychotropic ability.
More recent research has found that there are a small number of CB2 receptors in the brain. But when these receptors were studied in mice, no psychotropic effects were found. However, other interesting effects were!
4. CBD Oil Binds THC Receptors in a Unique Way
When scientists talk about chemicals and their receptors they love to compare them to locks and keys. Many chemicals work like keys which unlocks the receptor and activates it. Like turning on a car. On a CB2 receptor, this is how CBD works. CBD works a little different.
CBD works on CB1 receptors like rust on a lock. It makes it a little harder for that key to work and unlock the receptor. So products like CBD oil weaken the ability of THC to act on CB1 receptors. This is one of the reasons why synthetic cannabinoids are so dangerous – they bind too strongly to CB1 receptors and don’t have THC there to weaken the effect.
This fifth point is the last really nitty-gritty scientific answer to the question “What is CBD oil?” Now, let’s get into some of the fun research!
5. CBD Oil Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties.
Those CB2 receptors we were just talking about. Well guess where a lot of them are found? In part of our immune system called T-Cells. When T-Cells become activated it can lead to inflammatory problems.
When CBD binds the CB2 receptors on T-Cells, researchers found that it reduces the activation and inflammation of the T-Cells. The potential future therapies are exciting, and many people are already reporting that it’s helping them with problems like IBS.
6. CBD Oil May be able to Treat-Autoimmune Diseases
The same T-cells responsible for inflammatory reactions also are involved in autoimmune responses. Research is starting to show that CBD oil may help with auto-immune diseases, when used as a part of a focused treatment. Remember, always consult your doctor before starting supplements like CBD oil!
7. What is CBD Oil’s Legal status?
In *Most* states CBD oil is legal, as long as it’s derived from Hemp. If the CBD oil is derived from marijuana, it gets murkier and may or may not be legal depending on the state. Also keep in mind that marijuana, is still illegal on the federal level (as of the time of this writing). Here’s a great WebMD article on the legality of CBD oil.
In no state can companies claim that CBD oil can treat or cure a condition. There’s a lot of exciting research that’s starting to say CBD oil MAY help with anxiety, depression, inflammation, auto-immune, and so on. But company’s can’t claim that without FDA approval.
8. Will CBD Oil Cure my Health Problem?
No company can claim that CBD oil can treat or cure any health condition or impart any health benefit. There’s a lot of exciting research that’s starting to say CBD oil MAY help with anxiety, depression, inflammation, auto-immune, and so on. But a company’s can’t claim that it can do these things without medical trials and FDA approval. Many companies will be tempted to answer the question “What is CBD Oil” with the claim that it’s some sort of miracle drug. Don’t fall for it, and stay up on the research.
9. If You Plan on Taking CBD Oil, Tell Your Doctor!
CBD oil is a supplement just like any other. Ever hear that you drinking grapefruit juice will cause the Statins, a drug for high cholesterol, to work less well?
Guess what, CBD oil may cause other drugs not to work so well too! It’s really important that you always let your doctor know your plans and what you’re taking so he can work with you. Like we say in another post on the site – be your own best advocate!
10. Not all CBD oil is created equal
Question: What is CBD Oil when you grow it in polluted soil? Answer: Not something I’d recommend you take!
Most of the places that sell CBD oil gets it from Hemp – a natural filter. Make sure you research the types of ground the Hemp has been grown in before you buy the CBD oil. It’s great that hemp can filter soil this way, but you probably don’t want it passing those pollutants on into any sort of supplement you take!
Do You Know the True Financial Costs of Being Overweight?
None of us can see into the future. However, as the saying goes “forewarned is forearmed”. Since we know what health conditions are associated with being overweight, we can develop a sense of the future health costs of being overweight. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases lists nine health problems linked to being overweight and obese. We’ll walk through each, one-by-one.
Throughout April 2019, we’re going to be examining the financial aspects of weight gain and weight loss. A lot of websites will talk about future health conditions related to weight loss, but not many translate this directly into dollars and cents. Over the next month, we’ll be looking at cost-effective weight loss programs and ways that you can lose weight for no cost, or even make money with some creative programs.
Thrifty Patient is focused on bringing you news related to how to save money in healthcare. To that end, we feel we should make a clear argument about the financial benefits to weight loss. Just keep in mind that Thrifty Patient doesn’t provide medical advice and you should always talk to your physician about any concerns you have regarding your weight.
How Can I Tell if I’m Overweight?
Unfortunately, knowing if you’re overweight isn’t as simple as just stepping on a scale and counting the pounds. You’ll want to understand what your BMI is. A great calculator / chart we’ve discovered is on the website Braceability. All you need is your height and weight and you can see if you’re underweight, optimal, overweight, or obese.
However, it gets a little more complicated if you’re very muscular, very tall, have a wide chest, or have other body dimensions that complicate the situation. As luck would have it, Braceability has you covered there too. Scroll down further in their article and it’ll give you instructions on how to determine your weight range.
Health Conditions & Costs Associated with Being Over-Weight via
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
1. Type II Diabetes – $13,700.00
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease. When you have type 2 diabetes your body stops responding properly to insulin. Insulin is a chemical released by your pancreas that functions like a key. This key allows muscle, fat, and a few other tissues to ‘suck up’ sugar from the blood and use it for energy. Without insulin our blood fills with sugar with leads to all sorts of problems.
Connection to Obesity: The connection between weight and the risk for diabetes is well-known and well-researched. Many reputable studies have pointed towards a connection between fat tissue, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes1.
The Cost of Type II Diabetes: As with many of the diseases we’ll be looking at, diabetes and the true health costs of being overweight goes far beyond any dollar amount. The CDC reports that diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in the US in 2015 and that the average yearly medical expenditure was $13,7002.
2. High Blood Pressure – $2000.00
High Blood Pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious conditions that can lead to many medical emergencies such as heart disease, strokes, aneurysms, and even death. It is another prime example of the health costs of being overweight. According to the CDC, 75 million (1 in 3!) American adults have high blood pressure!3 Treating high blood pressure is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the US. Being hypertensive also complicates other health issues. While new treatments are emerging all the time, it’s better to avoid the problem entirely, if you can, through lifestyle modification and weight loss.
Connection to Obesity: A classic study on cardiovascular health, The Framingham Heart study, came to the estimate that 26% of cases of hypertension in men and 28% in women could be connected to obesity. An explanation for this is that, the excess fat squashes our arteries and veins, so that heart has to work harder to push out the blood. Overtime this leads to chronic hypertension4. If you feel you’re obese and suffering from hypertension it’s so important that you speak with your physician.
The Cost of Hypertension: The CDC states that in 2011, the total cost of treating hypertension was $46 billion dollars between medications, health services, and missed days of work3. Estimates put the cost of care for hypertension at between $600 and $2000 annually per patient5.
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3. Heart Disease and Stroke – $200,000.00
Heart disease is a general term used to describe several different ailments. With hypertension we saw that the excess fat compressed arteries from the outside. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women and about half of all Americans have a risk factor for heart disease, according to the CDC7. What are the CDC-listed heart disease risk factors? Diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, excess alcohol use. Feels like a common theme huh? Seriously, the stats on heart disease are frightening and it’s worth a read.
Connection to Obesity: Think of heart disease as the gunk inside of the arteries that can clog up the pipes. This leads to enough problems by itself, but when the gunk dislodges it can result in serious events like a stroke.
The Cost of Heart Disease & Strokes: The CDC estimates that heart disease results in over $200 billion each year. Estimating an exact cost for heart disease is complicated, because how the disease can progress is complex, and some therapies are more costly than others. Some findings in the state of NY in 1997 had the expense of heart disease at over $200,000 per individual8! If you’re the cost-conscious type, then both the financial and health implications of obesity-drive heart disease should scare you.
4. Certain Types of Cancer – $$$
Connection to Obesity: According to cancer.net, as your body puts on increased weight, it starts producing more of certain types of hormones. Cancer is not one of the health costs of being overweight that many people think of. In fact, it surprised this writer when first reading about the connection. Inflammation is also associated with increased weight gain. Research has shown that these changes are oncogenic. This means that they create environments where certain types of cancer can grow.
The Cost of Cancer: With cancer we’re not going to try and put a price on all the damage cancer does. Suffice to say, treatments are expensive and go far beyond any specific dollar amount. The mental, social, and physical price of cancer can’t be under-stated.
5. Sleep Apnea – $6,366.00
Sleep Apea. Unless you or a loved one suffers from it, few people think about it. As you’ll soon see, it’s a great example of the hidden health costs of being overweight. WebMD defines three types of sleep apnea: Obstructive, Central, and Complex10. Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with weight gain. About 29 million US adults are anticipated to have obstructive sleep apnea. With 23.5 million of the cases being undiagnosed11. Sleep apnea can impact sleep and result in all the negative side effects that reduced sleep can lead to.
Connection to Obesity: As fat builds up around the neck and on the chest, it compresses airways. If you read about the connection between weight and hypertension, you can think of sleep apnea as the airway version of that. This is an example of several truly hidden health costs of being overweight.
The Cost of Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea might not seem like a serious issue, but the results of lack of sleep and lack of productivity cost the US economy about $6,366 per person11.
6. Osteoarthritis – $4,040.00
According to the arthritis foundation, Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. It most often affects the knees, hips, lower back and neck. Obesity isn’t the only cause of Osteoarthritis, but it is a cause that can’t be ignored. If you’ll suffer from any of the health costs of being overweight, there’s a good chance it’ll be Osteoarthritis.
Connection to Obesity: As increased weight bears down on the joints; the cartilage gets worn down by the extra pressure. In addition, researchers have found that obesity leads to a low-grade inflammatory state which also hastens the wearing-down of joints13.
The Cost of Osteoarthritis: Before we get into the cost of OA, it should be noted that we’re not going to try and tease apart OA costs caused by obesity from those caused by wear and tear. It’s very much a chick-and-egg type of question. Osteoarthritis costs the US $305 billion annually according to the CDC14. This amounts to extra medical costs of $2,117 per person with OA and complications costing $4,040 in less pay per adults14.
7. Fatty Liver Disease – $1,700.00
There are different types of liver diseases. Some of these are associate with alcoholism, but obesity is known to be linked to a different type of liver disease – known as Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis or Fatty Liver Disease (NASH). The MAYO clinic estimates that over 80 million Americans have NASH15.
Connection to Obesity: When our liver cells store up too much fat, we run the risk of developing fatty liver disease. As our BMI increases, the fat in our blood and that accumulates in our liver increases. This directly leads to an increased risk NASH16.
The Cost of Fatty Liver Disease: According to research in 2016, the economic cost of NASH in the US is $103 Billion or $1,613 per patient17. At over a billion dollars annually, this is actually one of the smaller health costs of being overweight – at least financially. Still, I’d rather not have to suffer from NASH and I certainly don’t have the extra $1,700 to pay for treatment of a debilitating disease.
8. Kidney Disease – $2,633.00
Our kidneys act as filters for our blood. Wastes, toxins, and extra fluid gets filtered out and removed via our urine. Along with working as a filter, our kidneys also help us regulate our blood pressure, help us activate vitamin D, and help make red blood cells. When our kidneys can’t do these things as well due to damage, doctors call it chronic kidney disease or CKD.
According to the CDC, about 1 in 7 people have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), with the majority of the 30 million people who have it, not even realizing it. The CDC also lists it as the 9th leading cause of death in the US18. It’s not a naturally connection to think of kidney disease as one of the health costs of being overweight.
Connection to Obesity: Being overweight leads to CKD in a number of ways. In 2017, the Canadian Journal of Medicine identified how obese individuals end up overworking their kidneys19. As body weight increases, so too do metabolic demands and this results in more pressure in the kidneys. Think of this as a river that passes through a dam. As more rain falls the river swells and the pressure on the dam increases. Eventually that pressure could damage the dam if it goes on too long. This is another one of the hidden health costs of being overweight. Other ways to develop CKD are if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. Three other diseases closely connected to obesity.
The Cost of Kidney Disease: The yearly cost to Medicare to treat CKD $79 Billion. This amounts to $2,633.33 for each of the 30 million with CKD. Note that this cost doesn’t factor in how many of those people are on private insurance. Since Medicare tends to pay lower rates, we’re probably spending far more then $2633 per patient to treat kidney disease.
9. Pregnancy Problems – Complex Social and Financial Costs
This is one of the most complex complications to arise from obesity, since it involves the combined health of two individuals. Obesity can make it more difficult for you to conceivex. It can put you and the baby at risk of problems from high blood pressure like eclampsia or pre-eclampsia. It can also increase risk of gestational diabetes and sleep apnea.
A 2015 report from Reuters states that half of U.S. women are overweight during pregnancy. In 2010 (the most recent date we could find) about 9.8% of women between 15 and 44 years old we’re pregnant. That’s about 35.6% of women or 55,892,000 women. Half of that means 27.9 million women were overweight during their pregnancy.
Connection to Obesity: Carrying too much weight can result in the problems we’ve listed above, like having high blood sugar (gestational diabetes), high blood pressure (Eclampsia), and issues like sleep apnea. However, in addition to these issues it can also result in things like macrosomia, stillbirth, and premature birth.
The Cost of Pregnancy Issues: Nothing signifies the physical, mental, spiritual, social, and financial pillars of health better then this issue. When we talk about the health costs of being overweight, we don’t always just mean financial costs. The costs of obesity during pregnancy goes far beyond any price tag we can put on it. If you do look at just annual cost, researchers estimate it totally about 1.8 billion dollars without considering any of the long-term costs20,21.
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6. Jadoon, Khalid., Tan, Garry., O’Sullivan, Saorise., ‘A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study’ American Society for Clinical Investigation 2017
17. ZM, Younossi., Dm Blissett., R, Blissett, M, Stepanova., Y, Younossi., A, Racila., S, Hunt., R, Beckerman., ‘The economic and clinical burden of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in the United States and Europe.’https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27543837 US National Library of Medicine.
21. Lenoir-Wijnkoop, Irene., Van Der Beek, Eline., Garssen, Johan., Nuijten, Mark., Uauy, Ricardo., May 2015., ‘Health economic modeling to assess short-term costs of maternal overweight, gestational diabetes, and related macrosomia – a pilot evaluation’ Frontiers in Pharmacology