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Obesity Can Raise Your Health Insurance Premium

November 15, 2010 | Guest Post | Healthcare | Insurance | No Comments

This morning, my health insurance company sent me a very nice note with a very ugly truth inside: my premium went up because 55% more people in 2009 than in 2007 received surgery for obesity.

Health Insurance Premiums and Weight on the Rise

The estimated annual cost for treatment of obesity is $200 billion, but 70% of disease is preventable and 87.5% of claims made are due only to the individual’s unhealthy lifestyle choices, to include but not limited to poor diet, over eating, smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise, and more.  One of every five healthcare dollars are spent on treatment of diabetes.

As stated in this web site’s February 3rd post of 2009, many health insurance holders are provided insurance by their own workplace; because healthcare costs are only rising, businesses are pushing expenses toward their employees.  Even those of us who are physically fit must pay for the irresponsible lifestyles of others.  This is part of being a citizen of the United States; rather than complaining about health insurance premiums and healthcare reform (not that criticism isn’t warranted), we must ourselves take action by living more healthful lives.

A Little Known Truth About Dieting

The known tips and tricks are old and known, even trite: don’t eat fast food, don’t eat lots of sweets or salty snacks, exercise three days a week, diet, diet, diet.  How, then, is a nation so obsessed with dieting— the American diet industry makes close to $40 billion annually selling pills, foods, cookbooks, DVDs, clothing, etc—also known as the fattest nation on the planet?

The answer is more obvious than we think.


Clinicians at eating disorder treatment centers—commonly believed to be filled only with “skinny” folk like anorexics and bulimics—know that dieting is the biggest trigger of eating disorders.  In truth, eating disorders are not limited to “skinny” diseases but include habitual overeating, stress eating, mindless eating, binge eating, and more.  These are the diseases causing our health insurance premiums to rise.  In fact, about one in two individuals enrolled in dieting programs suffer from BED, or Binge-Eating Disorder, which inevitably leads to weight gain and even, in some cases, heart disease and diabetes.

How Dieting Is Making America Fat

Here is the logic behind this paradox: If a parent tells a child to not eat a single “bad” food like a cookie, a candy cane, an ice cream cone, a donut, or a bag of chips in an entire emporium of “bad” foods, what will the child do?  Want the “bad” foods more and eventually cave in and eat all the “bad” food the child’s stomach can take.  Then, the child feels bad for disobeying his or her parents and vows to never do it again . . . until the next time he or she caves and binges on “bad” foods.  The child in this case is any dieter, the parent is society (run by the diet industry and media, hand in hand), and the emporium is any American fast food restaurant or grocery store.  We are daily surrounded by stress that makes us seek comfort food by which we are surrounded, and the more we are told by society to not eat “bad” foods, the more we want them.  Eventually, we all cave.  “For every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge,” according to Geneen Roth, a disordered eater for nearly twenty years and now a Good Housekeeping columnist and advocate of natural health and weight.

So, for the sake of our own health and the health and happiness of our wallets, let’s rethink diets and dieting and seek, instead, balance.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online degree programs and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.





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