The obesity epidemic has increased U.S. health care costs by more than $190 billion a year, roughly 21% of all our national health care expenditures, according to a recent Reuters report. If that statistic doesn’t send shockwaves through your system, here’s an even more startling fact: obese individuals rack up an additional $1,152 a year in average insurance expenses, compared to $512 for the non-obese.
In recent years, the cost of the obesity epidemic has become a problem we can no longer ignore, as it has manifested itself in our national health care costs and rising insurance premiums. With the problem only becoming more of an issue, individuals have begun wondering how we can stop forking over money to rising health care expenditures and insurance premiums.
One of the most efficient ways to combat the obesity epidemic is to stop pointing the finger, evaluate your own dietary and lifestyle decisions, and make changes where they’re appropriate. In fact simple adjustments like cutting out soda is one great way to help you save on health care and insurance costs.
Americans drink the most soda in the world, according to the Kick the Can Foundation. On average, Americans drink a staggering 45 gallons of soda each year. While drinking a 12-ounce can of soda on a daily basis may seem harmless enough, one of soda’s main ingredients – high-fructose corn syrup – has been heavily linked to obesity. The Livestrong Foundation reports that high-fructose corn syrup is known for increasing belly fat, prompting cholesterol development in the liver, and encouraging visceral fat, all of which make individuals more susceptible to diabetes and obesity.
For non-diet drinkers that means guzzling 16 teaspoons of sugar every day. And if you’re consuming diet or low-calorie soda, you’re probably worse off. Countless studies link aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to increased risks for certain cancers, kidney and liver damage, and even Alzheimer’s.
It’s easy to want to ignore the dangers of soda when you’re simply trying to fuel up on sugary drinks and snacks to make it through the work week, but your employer may soon make you pay up if you don’t make your health a priority.
The recently-passed U.S. health care reform law of 2010 grants employers the right to charge their employees up to 50% more for health insurance costsÿif they don’t perform well on qualified health and wellness tests. Before you know it, you could be forking over thousands more for health insurance simply because you’re reaching for one-to-many cans of soda.
Afflictions like obesity, cancers, and related health concerns can be deterred with the right lifestyle habits, which include a healthy diet, active lifestyle, and low consumption of high-calorie foods and sugary drinks. In doing this, Americans can not only live longer, more-fulfilled lives, but they can also avoid paying high medical bills and ridiculous insurance premiums.
Wonder what the hidden costs of drinking sugar-laden syrup are? Check out our latest video evaluating the toll soda takes on our nation’s health, economy, and environment.
The Hidden Costs of Soda Video Transcript
Regular and excessive soda drinking is linked with increased risk of obesity, tooth decay, stroke, some cancers, and kidney damage. Soda contributes the most refined sugar to American’s diets than anything else, offering up a whopping 17 teaspoons of sugar per 20 ounce beverage. Today, 1 in 10 people are obese. Not coincidentally, the two developed countries with the fastest rising obesity rate are America and Mexico at 4% to 5%. The same two countries that topped the list for most soda consumed at 170 and 146 liters per person per year respectively.
- Health: F
Americans drink, on average, 20 ounces of soda a day, about $500 per year on soda. Plus, there are extra costs incurred at the dentist because of tooth decay, health bills from weight gain and more. The soda industry pulls in nearly $66 billion annually. Coca Cola, the world’s largest soda manufacturer, employs 146,200 people in over 200 countries.
- Economy: B-
Throwing away a soda can wastes as much energy as filling that can with gasoline and then pouring it on the ground, but recycling that same can will save enough electricity to power a 100 watt light bulb for three full hours. If littered, a soda can won’t degrade for 500 years. Aluminum is a cradle to cradle product, meaning if it’s recycled, it can be reused again and again. In fact, 75% of the aluminum manufactured since the 1800s is still in use today, in a different recycled form. On the downside, 40 billion cans still end up in landfills each year, about half of soda cans used.
- Environment: C+
Final grade: C-
To see more videos from the Hidden Costs series, check out InsuranceQuotes.org.
- Video Transcript
- Health: C
- Stanford’s psychology department says: Facebook users reliably overestimate other people’s happiness, and therefore are more depressed about their own lives – a problem plaguing women more so than men. On the flip side however, access to Facebook at work makes employees happier, and each year about 10% of companies allow browsing to improve employee morale.
- Environment: C+
- In 2010 Facebook announced it would be building a coal-operated data center in Oregon– but after environmental agencies came down hard on the social networking site, Facebook made some changes. In 2011, Facebook linked up with Climate Corp to produce data centers with a lighter footprint and in time hopefully their data centers will be more eco-wise.
- Economy: C+
- With over a billion active users# and nearly a quarter of them visiting 5 times a day it’s no wonder Facebook made $5 billion dollars last year. But with 488 million of these users navigating via mobile devices and with Facebook struggling to monetize mobile, it’s also no surprise that Facebook made about a $1 billion less than expected.
- Final Grade: C+