What's New

Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

March 24, 2004

Study: Obesity increases in Upstate New York, raising health-care costs

The number of obese and overweight adults in Upstate New York increased by nearly a quarter-million from 1997 to 2002, costing New Yorkers more than $6 billion a year in related health-care costs, according to a study by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Roughly 81 percent of New York's adult health spending that is attributable to obesity was funded by taxpayers through the Medicaid and Medicare programs, the study found. The national average was 52 percent, it said.

"Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in our country," said Kevin Hill, president of Excellus. Excess weight is linked to life-threatening diseases including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

"The medical costs of obesity in our nation and our state are on par with those of smoking related illness," Hill said.

Causes of the obesity epidemic are complex, and "immediate solutions have proven elusive," the Excellus report said. It called for more research as well as specific steps such as increased opportunities for physical activity.

For the full report, click here