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GUEST COLUMN: Curbing youth obesity in Maine

March 27, 2013
by State Sen. Rebecca Millett
The Current (Maine)

 

Maine’s healthcare costs put a burden on families and small businesses alike. While our economy lags, healthcare costs have risen. One significant contributor to these costs is the obesity epidemic that plagues our state. According to a recent study by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Maine is on course to have an obesity rate of greater than 55 percent in twenty years. Currently, more than half of Maine’s population is overweight or obese.

Aside from the health risk, this has a real cost.

A recent report from the Maine Economic Growth Council and Maine Development Foundation notes that annually this amounts to $767 million in medical expenses to the state and productivity losses of $2 billion. Maine spends 22.4 percent of its GDP each year on medical expenses which is significantly higher than any other New England state. Add to that, Maine’s healthcare costs have continued to rise. If we can encourage people to be healthy, eat nutritionally, and exercise then we can, in turn, lower the cost of healthcare for Mainers.

 

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