Obesity Could Cost Contra Costa Over $1 Billion

Rising obesity rates could cost Contra Costa County more than $1.3 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity, according to a study released recently by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.
The report shows a 33 percent rise in obesity rates statewide and the reported economic impact of being overweight, obese and physically inactive has nearly doubled, now costing California as a whole an estimated $41 billion a year.
An update of a 2000 report, this study breaks down the costs by county to allow local policy makers, business and community leaders, and community residents to know the economic effect of these conditions in their geographic areas.
Obesity is a troubling epidemic, said Dr. Wendel Brunner, Public Health Director with Contra Costa Health Services, which is Contra Costa’s public health system.
“With the epidemic of obesity we are seeing an increase in risks for heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that if current trends continue, as many as one out every five children today will grow up to have type II diabetes,” he said.
“Such health problems are devastating to the community and significantly drive up health care costs,” Brunner said “However, this analysis shows that if we can reduce obesity by even a small amount, it can have a significant benefit. This is why it is important to put resources into programs that help prevent and reduce obesity.”
The health services agency is involved in the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) collaborative in West County, which is working with communities, schools, business and health providers to promote healthy eating and physical activity in the community.
The City of Richmond has developed a Health and Wellness element in its general plan that is designed to encourage the building of walkable neighborhoods, bike paths, access to healthy food, and safe parks and play grounds.