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The cost of chronic disease

Obesity
Obesity © Bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock.com

The CDC now counts 1 in 3 adults and nearly 1 in 5 youths from ages 6 to 19 as obese. The cost of treating medical problems related to obesity reached an estimated $147 billion in 2008, and individual medical costs for obese patients were $1,429 higher in 2006 than those for people of healthy weight.

Besides creating a high risk for Type 2 diabetes, obesity contributes to the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, Fonarow says.

Cost-saving health tips: Any successful weight-loss strategy boils down to one formula, the CDC says: Burn more calories than you consume. To calculate how many calories you need to eliminate to reach your goal, remember that each pound equals about 3,500 calories.

Bauer stresses that exercising and eating right lead to better health at any weight level.

"No matter where you are on that continuum, you can dramatically improve your health status, even if your weight never changes, by regularly getting physical activity and making healthful food choices," she says.

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