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Obesity in Older Americans

Obesity in Older Americans
Obesity in Older Americans

The percentage of Americans with obesity continues to climb, with over 27% of Americans in 2014 falling into the category of obese, which is customarily defined as having a BMI greater than 30.0. Americans over 65 years of age had the sharpest increase in obesity levels, followed by 45-64 year olds. Because obesity is associated with several other health risks, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, the rise in obesity levels may lead to increases in chronic medical conditions and a greater health and economic burden on both individuals and the health care system.

A new study provided by Comprehensive Health Insights, a Humana company, investigated the impact of obesity on 172,866 Medicare Advantage members’ utilization of healthcare resources over a one year period. They used medical claims to separate the older Americans into categories of normal weight (BMI 19.0-24.9), overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9), moderately obese (BMI 30.0-34.9), severely obese (BMI 35.0-39.9), and very severely/morbidly obese (BMI greater than 40.0). Underweight Americans were excluded from the study.

Researchers found that older Americans with a BMI above 30.0 had statistically higher incidences of hospitalizations, emergency room admissions, and increased use of outpatient services. Very severely obese patients (those with a BMI over 40.0) had a 3.4 fold increase in inpatient hospitalizations and a 1.4 fold increase in emergency room visits compared with normal weight patients (BMI between 19 and 24.9). Moderately obese and severely obese patients also had a greater chance of using health care resources compared to normal weight participants, with the percentage increasing with increasing obesity class. Medication use was higher in obese patients, including prescriptions treating conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, pain, and depression.

While this information is useful in highlighting the need to control the obesity epidemic in America and it’s health and economic burden on both individuals and the health care system, at Dr. Shillingford’s South Florida office we also see it as a way to offer an alternative to those looking to avoid the trappings of obesity and live the healthiest life possible for them. If you have tried to lose weight on your own or with other programs and have been unsuccessful and are concerned for your health because of your weight, consider scheduling an informational session with Dr. Shillingford to learn more about the latest bariatric surgical procedures offered in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/Boca Raton area. Dr. Shillingford is a board certified surgeon specializing in gastric sleeve, lap band, and gastric bypass surgeries. Dr. Shillingford’s office offers free informational sessions on Wednesdays in his Boca Raton office, please call (561) 483-8840 to learn more about gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and lap band surgery and if it may be right for you.