Friday, July 13, 2007

"Those Crazy Californians. This Time Its Childhood Obesity."

That's the title of Brian Klepper's recent post over at the Blog, "The Doctor Weighs In."

He mentions my recent post on this and takes it further. It's a good read.

Here's the first part and a link to the rest:

California always seems to be ahead on things that matter. A CNN story this week highlights that state's terrific anti-obesity TV campaign. The ads have cute kids sweetly asking "Dad, could you buy me some diabetes?" and "Can I drink another cup of sugar?" The goal is to shock adults into appreciating that the cheap, tasty foods they shovel down their children's gullets will have real impact. In one of the CNN clips, Adam Sandler says the ads work so well that he and his little girl suddenly dropped their cheeseburgers. I passed along the link to folks in Florida's government, and asked, "Why aren't we doing something like this?"

It's a fair question, but as I tried to point out in my post the other day on food companies' lobbying influence, these ads, powerful as they are, are hardly a match for the food industry's virtually unlimited resources and unrestrained marketing power. A well-intentioned state agency may place a few high profile ads, but the food companies can run theirs unrelentingly and in many different media. They're all over kids’ TV programming, in children’s books, and at schools. They have product placements in the movies, and are on Internet gaming sites. It's difficult to go head-to-head and expect to win against such sophisticated techniques and on so many fronts.

We’re utterly losing the war on obesity. The disease and cost numbers make that abundantly clear. The other day, Bob Laszewski at The Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review reminded us of an important 2005 Emory University study on the topic. The team, led by prominent health services researcher Kenneth Thorpe PhD, analyzed the 20 medical conditions that accounted for most of the growth in health insurance spending between 1987 and 2002.

The conditions, in order of their influence, included:

  1. Newborn and Maternity Care
  2. Cancer
  3. Pulmonary Conditions
  4. Arthritis
  5. Mental Disorders
  6. Hyperlipidemia
  7. Hypertension
  8. Lupus
  9. Back Problems
  10. Upper Gasterintestinal
  11. Diabetes
  12. Kidney Problems
  13. Infectious Disease
  14. Heart Disease
  15. Skin Disorders
  16. Bronchitis
  17. Endocrine Disorders
  18. Other Gasterointestinal Diseases
  19. Bone Disorders
  20. Cerebrovascular Disease
During that 15-year period, the cost of treating obesity-related conditions rose tenfold, growing to two-thirds of our total health care spending. The number of people who became obese, the percentage of obese people with serious medical conditions, and the cost to treat each obese patient all skyrocketed.

The rest of the Brian's post


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