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The IHRSA Advocate is your guide to knowing and understanding the policies that influence daily health club operations. We analyze the action, so you know when to take your own.

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Entries in cost of obesity (14)


State of the Union Misses "Weight of the Union”

In his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama covered a robust list of issues including job creation, debt reduction, foreign policy, immigration reform and gun violence.

But, “the greatest threat to our nation,” was never mentioned, as noted by IHRSA member Anytime Fitness. Obesity is sky rocketing health care costs and depreciating the quality of life for millions of Americans.

Anytime Fitness’ replied with a blog post and infographic: Weight of the Union, an “examination of the macro-implications of obesity on the nation’s health.”


United States of Obesity: How States Are Grappling with Cost

The STOP Obesity Alliance recently issued a bulletin on what U.S. states are doing to combat the cost of obesity. In the report, the Alliance identifies several trends, including legislation to enhance community infrastructure to increase access to exercise and consolidate obesity reduction efforts.

According to the Alliance’s report: 

  • Public health organizations are beginning to recognize that utilizing families in childhood obesity solutions is critical because of strong links between parent and child obesity.
  • There is a great need for consolidating obesity efforts. Most states have created some version of a coalition or task force, but these smaller groups tend to fragment and slow progress.
  • Majority of bills introduced to address obesity emphasized creating more supportive environments for healthy choices. “Of the obesity bills that passed, the majority focused on prevention, including creating healthy food environments, improving school nutrition, supporting local agriculture, and encouraging physical activity through creating safe neighborhoods and improved access to existing infrastructure,” said the report.

Read the full report here (PDF).


Fiscal Cliff Averted, Obesity Cliff Still Looms

IHRSA warned federal lawmakers of the danger of complacency regarding U.S. obesity in an op-ed on, a prominent DC news source read widely by legislators and aides. Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s EVP of Public Policy, acknowledged recent reports of a drop in childhood obesity rates, but said there is still a lot of work to be done.

Early last December, a report found that a few big cities including New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, saw decreases in the number of obese and overweight youth. The decreases were small (between 3 and 5 percent). “While reports of falling childhood obesity rates are greatly welcome, buried behind the good news are three hard truths,” wrote Durkin. The first truth, she says, is that the populations that suffer most from obesity in America are still growing. The second truth is that short-term fixes are not sustainable and third, Durkin wrote, is that the successful solution to obesity is a multi-pronged policy approach that includes regular exercise.

So, while the fiscal cliff has been addressed for now (Fiscal cliff deal: 5 things to know, CNN), the impact of obesity on health care spending is still looming. Given that high rates of obesity mean greater medical spending by both individuals and government, Durkin points out that, “the obesity ‘cliff’ that we face is just as real and as daunting as any fiscal one before us.”

Read the full op-ed here. (Scroll down to the 3rd article)


Ireland Suggests a “Fat Tax”

According to the Irish Examiner, a new report by University College Cork, in Ireland, suggests that imposing a so-called “fat tax” on unhealthy foods is needed to combat the country’s spiraling obesity-related health care costs. The report estimated that obesity costs Ireland €1.64 billion ($2.1 billion) per year — almost 3% of total health expenditures.

Click to read more ...


Obesity Hurts Fuel Efficiency

It is worrisome enough that obesity drives up health care costs, weakens national security and hampers academic performance. Now, a new research study is demonstrating the link between obesity and decreased fuel efficiency. “Between 1960 and 2002, 1 billion gallons of gasoline could be attributed to the weight gain of motorists in passenger vehicles,” says the Allstate Corporation, who conducted the study.

As told in the Chicago Tribune, “Allstate Corp.’s The Allstate Blog says obese Americans are hurting the fuel efficiency of vehicles, contributing to more than 1 billion gallons of fuel wasted each year.”

“Americans keep gaining weight, and cars are losing it,” the Allstate blog said. “It’s a seesaw battle that’s making it difficult to realize the gains expected by a big push for lighter, more fuel-efficient cars.” According to the U.S. Energy Department, an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your miles per gallon by up to 2 percent.

The airline industry has already documented how the overweight are adding to its expenses. In 2000, the airline industry said it used 350 million more gallons of fuel than it did in 1990 just to haul the additional weight Americans gained during the decade, Centers for Disease Control researchers say.

Read the full article here


Bipartisan Center Says Physical Activity Needed to Curb Obesity

Earlier this week the fitness industry’s cause was validated once again with the release of report from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), stating that obesity will eventually bankrupt the U.S., unless policies to address it are enacted. The BPC’s report called on Congress to enact laws that encourage primary prevention.

Click to read more ...


New Data on Obesity Intensifies Pressure to Find a Solution

New projections on the growth of the US obesity epidemic emerged last week, during the national “Weight of the Nation” conference in Washington, DC. The new information heightens the call for action to reduce obesity and chronic disease, and get more Americans living healthier, more active lifestyles. One such projection, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that obesity will continue to rise over the next 18 years, extending to 42% of Americans by 2030. 

This is a slower growth rate than previously estimated, however, it will still generate a 130% increase in the number of severely obese Americans, and will take a significant toll on the economy and the nation’s health care system. According to the CDC, additional spending on healthcare for Americans who will join the ranks of the obese in the next 18 years was projected to reach $549.5 billion over the next two decades.

In contrast, another study presented at the conference—and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine—found that if growth rates of obesity were cut by just 1% a year over the next two decades, the US could save $85 billion in health care costs, reports Keep obesity rates at their current levels and the US will save nearly $550 billion during the same time frame. 

The opportunity for health clubs to step-in and serve as resources in helping Americans lose weight and be healthy is now, said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s President and CEO. “Clubs have the unique opportunity to serve as a solution to the nation’s obesity epidemic while also laying the groundwork for a vibrant future for the industry,” said Moore.

Moore says the new data is important for health clubs trying to make a difference in our nation’s health, because it demonstrates the power that small, incremental changes can have on the economy. “For those clubs that may find it hard or time consuming, or both, to get involved in advocacy to promote the industry, it is important for them to know that any amount of time or effort can make a difference.”


“Weight of the Nation” Documentary Explores Costs of Obesity

HBO explores the US obesity epidemic in an upcoming document series, “Weight of the Nation,” premiering May 14-15. The series examines several facets of the issue, including causes and consequences, science surrounding weight management and how the obesity epidemic is impacting the nation’s children. 

Learn more about the show on


Congress Must Tackle Obesity and Costs to Economy

“The best solution is…to ensure that the policies in place are consistent with the goal of lowering obesity rates in this country,” writes Laura Michina, fitness author and business consultant, in an editorial post on The Hill’s Congress Blog, a popular blogging site for federal lawmakers.

Michina urges Congress to provide for more opportunities for Americans to live healthy lifestyles, without dictating their behavior. “It is certainly not the government’s role to dictate or monitor what people eat and how much they move. However, it is the government’s role to enact laws, regulations, and policies that encourage a healthy society.” 

Read the full article...


Obesity, Chronic Disease Costs US Employers $153 Billion

According to the Gallup Poll, employees who are obese or have chronic conditions cost US employers $153 billion in lost productivity annually. This number is based on lost productivity due to absenteeism, the likelihood of which increases among those who are obese or suffering from a chronic disease. The $153 billion would increase if the analysis included “presenteeism,” which is when employees go to work but are less productive in their jobs because of poor health.

Read the full results from

“It goes to show the urgent need for primary prevention in the workplace, and counteracting one of the main causes of obesity and chronic disease, which is physical inactivity,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s President and CEO. “Employer involvement in employee wellness is essential—not only to the current generation of workers, but to future generations.”

Research shows that employee wellness programs are associated with lower rates of absenteeism, reduced employee health care expenses, and fewer disability and worker compensation claims. Considering that most working Americans spend one-half of their waking hours at work, it makes the workplace a useful and practical place for wellness-related initiatives that will benefit both the employee and employer.[1]

Moore says that the takeaway from this data is that America needs easier access to fitness facilities, and more incentives to engage in regular exercise. “It’s not just about getting more gym memberships—it’s about creating a community in which exercise and nutrition are paramount features of our health care system, and that health clubs are seen as invaluable community resources for wellness,” said Moore. Moore encourages all health club operators to ask their state and federal lawmakers to implement policies that create opportunities for exercise.