Rich Hamburg is deputy director of the Trust for America’s Health, one of two groups that publish the annual “F as in Fat” report. He says obesity costs businesses billions of dollars a year through absenteeism, lost productivity and medical expenses.
“And we’re beginning to get, you know, anecdotal stories of companies saying, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about where to relocate our headquarters — County A, County B, State A, State B.’ All things being equal, you’re going to want to invest where your costs are going to be lower, including health care costs.”
Hamburg says obesity is also a major contributing factor to the federal and state budget crises.
“The most recent statistics that we have show that obesity-related medical costs are close to $150 billion a year, and of that amount, almost half is through Medicare and Medicaid.”
By any measure, Texas has a serious weight problem. The 2011 “F as in Fat” report puts the state’s obesity rate at just over 30%, nearly double where it stood in 1995. Add in those Texans who are merely overweight and the number expands to an eye-popping 67%.