Iowa Specialty Hospital

Obesity: The Rising Cost of Healthcare

March 28, 2017

Obesity is an epidemic. The United States has the unfortunate honor of having the highest obesity rate in the world compared to other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.1 There are many countries close behind, making this a growing concern for the health of not just our own citizens, but of all citizens across the world.

In the U.S., there is not a single state that has an obesity rate lower than 20%. Iowa is ranked 12th (32.1%) in the nation for the highest obesity rate.2

How has this happened? Simple stated, we eat more and do less.

We live sedentary lifestyles where forms of entertainment mean watching TV, playing video games and going to movies. We consume low-cost, high-calorie fast food because of convenience. We work at desks and not in the fields or labor force like we once had, which kept us physically in shape by expelling calories.

The healthcare costs associated with individuals who are overweight or obese are growing alongside the number of cases each year and it’s important as ever to focus on preventative healthcare and healthy lifestyles.

Many people contribute diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension with being overweight, but the list is much longer.

The following are diseases and health conditions that are directly and indirectly attributable to being overweight or obese:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Asthma
  • Cancer: Breast cancer, gastric cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, renal cancer, esophageal cancer, endometrial (uterine) cancer, gallbladder cancer, colon cancer and pancreatic cancer
  • Chronic back pain
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hypertension
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke


In 2014, the direct costs of medical treatment for health conditions related to obesity and overweight totaled $427.8 billion. The indirect costs totaled $988.8 billion. Between direct and indirect costs, it was a total of $1.42 trillion spent, or 8.2% of our U.S. gross domestic product. 1

In addition, more than 320,000 deaths were attributable to obesity and being overweight.1 That is the equivalent of everyone in Des Moines proper and most everyone in Cedar Rapids per the 2010 census data.

The bottom line: we need to lose the excess weight.

If you are overweight or obese, your health is at risk. It’s time to make healthy lifestyle changes to prevent any future health risks or reduce or eliminate current health risks.

Woman with bag of groceries in kitchenHealthy lifestyle changes include:

  • Exercise daily for 30 minutes or vigorously 3 times a week
  • Meet with one of our nutritionists for help with a balanced diet
  • Avoid fast food and soft drinks
  • Schedule your annual check-ups with your physician, especially if you have a family history of weight-related health concerns like those listed above
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Weight loss programs – we offer both medical and surgical weight loss solutions, which are effective for those that cannot get or keep excess weight off


At Iowa Specialty Hospital, your health is our priority. We want to see all of our patients live a long and healthy life. For more information on obesity and how we can help you lose excess weight, contact us today at (844) 474-4321.



« Back

© 2022 Iowa Specialty Hospital. All rights reserved.