Weekly Roundup: How Much Does Obesity Cost?

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In case you didn’t get a chance to read the blog this week, we had a story about a new study finding the average “energy gap” needed to meet federal obesity reduction goals is 64 calories. We also covered the TEDMED conference, noting that HBO premiered a new clip of its upcoming documentary series “Weight of the Nation” at the event. Leaders also exclusively received a copy of our weekly newsletter, the Inside Track. In this week’s edition, we featured a Q&A with Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Ginny Ehrlich looking at how technical assistance can help schools become healthier. We also chatted with Leader Mary Dunne Stewart to get the story behind the new nonprofit Greater Richmond Fit4Kids. (Not a Leader? Click here to apply.)

Other stories making the rounds this week:

Obesity Costs Heavier than Earlier Estimates

Obesity accounts for roughly 21 percent of health care costs in the United States, more than twice as high as previous estimates, according to an article published in U.S. News and World Report. Researchers from Cornell University find that an obese person’s medical costs are $2,741 a year higher than non-obese people.

Community Characteristics Shape Obesity Rates

Neighborhoods play a direct role in shaping a child’s weight, according to several new studies. ABC News reports that new research finds that walkable neighborhoods with grocery stores that sell healthy food have lower rates of obesity compared to neighborhoods that limit physical activity and are not home to markets selling nutritious food.

Addressing Obesity Also Requires Addressing Poverty

Former Assistant Surgeon General Susan Blumenthal writes in the Huffington Post this week about the need to reduce poverty in order to reverse childhood obesity. Blumenthal notes that low-income children and teenagers are more likely to be obese than their higher-income counterparts.

Lack of Sleep Increases Obesity Risk

We often just talk about diet and exercise when thinking about obesity, but new research shows that sleep also plays a vital role in determining a person’s weight. The Boston Globe reports on a new study that found people exposed to disruptive, short sleep sessions are likely to have a slower metabolism, which can lead to weight gain.

Obesity Linked with Autism

Children who are born to obese women are more likely to be diagnosed with autism, Reuters reports. New research published in Pediatrics finds that there appear to be links between obese mothers and autistic children, although nothing conclusive has been established and researchers can’t prove that obesity causes autism. Follow-up research is expected.

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