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Duke researchers predict childhood obesity will cost $14 billion

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Childhood obesity will cost $14 billion over the lifetime of the near 20 percent of children in the United States that are considered to be obese according to new research conducted by Dr. Eric Andrew Finkelstein from the Duke Global Health Institute and Dr. Rahul Malhotra with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School that was presented in the April 7, 2014, issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The cost estimates are based on the number of obese 10-year-olds in the United States and the projected medical costs that will be incurred by high rates of diabetes, some cancers, and cardiovascular disease in people that are obese and remain obese throughout their life.

A reduced estimate places the dollar value at $12,900 per obese child if the child becomes obese later in life.

The researchers based their estimates of cost based only on medical costs did not include lost productivity in working, absenteeism, and other indirect costs.

The researchers argue that preventing obesity in children is equivalent to banning smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol in children.

While the researchers minimize the financial impact of obesity to the burden on the child which is a properly moral perspective, one is forced to note that increased insurance rates produced by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the influx of seven million uninsured into the system places the burden of obesity on the working taxpayer and not on the physician, obese person, or the legislators that enacted the ACA.

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