by | Aug 27, 2017 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

The Challenge

Obesity has become a global epidemic. In the USA, based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2013–2014, 73.7% men and 66.9% women were found to be obese. That shows more than 2 out of 3 adults are obese. Lately the demographic has shifted and the younger generation is also increasingly becoming obese. In the age ranges of 2-19 year olds 1 in 6 are found to be obese.

The body mass index is the tool used to differentiate between being overweight, obese and extremely obese. BMI is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. 18.5-24.9 is the normal BMI range, 25-29.9 is overweight, 30-40 is obese and over 40 is extremely obese.

The healthcare costs related to obesity have become a major burden for the United States government.  The healthcare costs of obesity range from 147-210 billion dollars per year. Obesity has an impact on the financial crisis as well. It is associated with job absenteeism costing approximately 4.3 billion dollars per year,  low work productivity. This costs employers $506 per obese employee per year.

Obese adults spend 42 percent more on direct healthcare cost than adults who are a healthy weight. This includes outpatient and inpatient services (including surgery), laboratory and radiological tests and drug therapy. Obesity is associated with higher medical, disability and insurance premium costs. Medicare beneficiaries who are obese cost $600 more per year than normal weight beneficiaries.

According to a 2008 study, if obesity prevalence continues to rise following current trends, total health care costs attributable to obesity and overweight will more than double every decade by 2030. This could lead to health care costs from $860 to $956 billion, which would account for 15.8-17.6 percent of total health care costs.

The direct and indirect damages of obesity on the health of individuals have long been documented. Obesity is a universal hazard because of its impact on all systems of the body. The excess fat in the body burdens all tissues and organs causing ‘metabolic syndrome’. This condition is progressive and exponential as the BMI reaches higher levels.

Higher morbidity in association with overweight and obesity has been observed for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems and some cancers.

Obesity increases the risk of chronic medical conditions. Overworked and overloaded heart damage leads to angina, heart attack, raised cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and eventually death.

An obese person’s overstretched body immune system gives in to the development of cancer in the organs: oesophagus, stomach, colon, liver, gall bladder, breast, uterus, cervix, ovary, pancreas, and kidney. The excessive demand of the body mass for insulin hormone results in diabetes with eventual complications: nerve damage, blindness, infection, tissue death, amputations, and kidney failure.

Persons with overly heavy body mass easily become lethargic, inactive and depressed resulting the overall diminishing of the quality of life. Obesity is also associated with complications in pregnancy, menstrual irregularities and stress incontinence.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), obesity increases the risk of early death by 50-100 percent. On average obesity reduces the lifespan by seven years. The Surgeon General estimates that 300,000 US deaths per year are related to obesity and overweight.

Overweight and obesity, as well as their related non-communicable diseases are largely preventable.

The Solution

According to the American Heart Association, weight loss can be achieved by simply burning more calories than you eat. Tracking how much food we eat and the amount of physical activity, will be two steps in the right direction.

Additional insights:

  • Limit the energy intake from total fats and sugars.
  • Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts.
  • Engage in regular physical activities(60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes spread through the week for adults)
  • Having a healthy sleep

Making lifelong healthy lifestyle changes can help you modify your energy balance to help you aim for and maintain a healthy weight. Enrolling for individual or group behavioral weight loss programs is also highly recommended as these programs create opportunities to get trained under healthcare professionals by customizing weight loss plans on individual basis.

One of the key problems with obese people is the lack of motivation to get back into shape.  Despite the research which has shown that engaging in pursuit of four health behaviors;  physical activity, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation can prolong the delay of 11-14 years of all causes of mortality. Yet, still people are lacking motivation.

Based on many of the social psychological theories to apply to promote health behavior and numerous research findings, too many attempts have failed to promote  action by converting motivation into actions.

Based on the various concepts that have been put forth throughout the history of this process, goal setting, self-monitoring, action planning, implementation intentions, reward based systems have  been useful key concepts. These focus on harnessing motivation and promoting action in those already likely to be motivated to change.

But the downside with these concepts is that these rely heavily on individuals who have at least some motivation to change even though they are not engaging in any positive behaviors thus they are called “unsuccessful intenders”. What about those who lack motivation completely? How do we capture that population and help it become healthy?

Human beings have a strong driving force that can push them beyond any limit and that is simply the reward based system in the hypothalamus of the human brain. One of the most influential driving factors is the finances, in simple terms, monetary compensation.

Think about all the reward based or personal goal systems that are semi failures and forget about them. Imagine a reward based system where instead of points you earn money.

Yes, that is right you earn money. Let the idea settle into the head and think about the motivation it will provide. At the very end you will have a good 11-14 years extended in your life span as well.

At thinvested.com, investors make a deposit into an account; the employee/patient earns the money by purchasing a scale (smart scale), then they weigh in on a regular basis. The solution can work for large employers looking to impact employee benefit costs and affect productivity and absenteeism.

 

If you have been lacking motivation don’t worry, we can be the motivation you never had. Not only do we add value to your motivation but we do not use the  age old point system  to get you to lose weight; we pay you for every pound lost and goal you achieve. Find out more at https://thinvested.com/faq.

 

Today Show host Savannah Guthrie explains why financial incentives work for motivating employees to lose weight.

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