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Obesity in Mississippi and It’s Causes 

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    Obesity is defined by being 20 percent over the recommended levels. A person’s BMI, or body mass index determines if that person is underweight, healthy, overweight, obese, or extremely obese. As body mass increases, so does the weight of a person, and therefore, increasing the cost. In the Southeastern region, being obese has become a normal sight, simply because of the culture that we immerse ourselves in. Obesity has affected Mississippi in major ways. According to the website,, the state of Mississippi has the second highest rate of obesity in the United States. The state also has the highest rate of childhood obesity, is second in the prevalence of diabetes, and has the fourth highest rate of hypertension.

    The issue of being obese has become an epidemic in our country and has become the cause of many chronic illnesses that could ultimately be prevented. Those diseases include, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Three of the most prevalent diseases that we see in people who are extremely overweight, or obese. Obesity effects healthcare managers by causing the costs to be extremely high for hospitals and the government. As of now, the estimated overall costs range from $147 billion to $210 billion per year (The Healthcare Costs of Obesity, 2018). Those numbers are extremely high considering that obesity and the chronic diseases that are likely to come along with it can be prevented. Each disease comes with its own burdens, that include symptoms and financial obligations. Insurance companies ultimately take on most of these burdens and causes the government to not be able to put as much money towards prevention as they should. Each individual disease has a dark cloud of its own and tends to rain on the parades of people who struggle with weight, as well as the country.

    The article, “The Healthcare Costs of Obesity”, gives excellent information about how obesity can affect a person’s job and ultimately healthcare costs. The article included data that stated, obese adults spend 42 percent more on direct healthcare costs than adults who are a healthy weight, per capita healthcare costs for severely or morbidly obese adults (BMI >40) are 81 percent higher than for healthy weight adults, in 2000, around $11 billion was spent on medical expenditures for morbidly obese U.S. adults, moderately obese (BMI between 30 and 35) individuals are more than twice as likely as healthy weight individuals to be prescribed prescription pharmaceuticals to manage medical conditions , and costs for patients presenting at emergency rooms with chest pains are 41 percent higher for severely obese patients, 28 percent higher for obese patients and 22 percent higher for overweight patients than for healthy- weight patients. These statistics show that having an unhealthy weight causes one to take up more health resources than those who maintain a healthy weight. The article also stated that, “reducing obesity, improving nutrition and increasing activity can help lower costs through fewer doctor’s office visits, tests, prescription drugs, sick days, emergency room visits and admissions to the hospital and lower the risk for a wide range of diseases.” We are also informed that “A 2008 study by the Urban Institute, The New York Academy of Medicine and TFAH found that an investment of $10 per person in proven community-based programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition and prevent smoking and other tobacco use could save the country more than $16 billion annually within five years. That’s a return of $5.60 for every $1 invested.9 Out of the $16 billion, Medicare could save more than $5 billion and Medicaid could save more than $1.9 billion. Also, expanding the use of prevention programs would better inform the most effective, strategic public and private investments that yield the strongest results.” From the research conducted, it is evident that putting an emphasis on prevention and educating people on why it is so important to stay healthy could make a dramatic difference in the way we live our lives. Diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are all connected to diabetes in some way, even though being obese is not the only cause, each of these diseases places a financial burden on either the patient, insurance companies, or hospitals, and affect Mississippians.

    While the chronic disease, diabetes is very common, it does not make it any less crucial to the health of those living with the disease, nor, does it lessen the burden that is placed on healthcare facilities. Diabetes is a disease that effects the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired. With the body doing this, it results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine. Diabetes can come in four different types. Those types include: Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. Sadly, the state of Mississippi is ranked number four

    Type 1 diabetes is a persistent condition that causes the pancreas to produce little to no insulin. The insulin isn’t being made properly because your immune system destroys the cells in your pancreas. This type of diabetes normally is diagnosed in children and young adults. Those that have type 1 diabetes take insulin every day to stay alive. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that attacks the way the body processes glucose. Type 2 often happens in middle-aged and older people. It is also the most common type of diabetes around (What is Diabetes 2016).

    Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes can affect adults and children (MAYO CLINIC 2017). Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develop in some women when they are pregnant. This particular type often goes away after the baby is born, but there is also a chance that the woman can develop type 2 diabetes later in her life. Diabetes can come in many different symptoms. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, some symptoms of these types of diabetes include increased thirst and urination, blurred vision, fatigue, increased hunger, numbness or tingling in the feet and/or hands, sores that do not heal, and unexplained weight loss (Symptoms and Causes, 2016).

    Just about 90 percent of the people who live with diabetes are overweight or obese. People that are overweight or obese have added pressure on their body’s ability to use insulin to properly control blood sugar levels which makes them more likely to develop diabetes. Diabetes isn’t only affecting sugar levels, it can affect many other things as well. It can cause end stage kidney diseases, non-traumatic lower extremity amputations, and cardiovascular complications and strokes. Diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness (Weight and Diabetes,2015).

    Diabetes in the work setting can be a problem at times. Most people can manage without it affecting their work, but some cannot. It is very important that employers are aware of the risk of having an employee with diabetes. Some employees that have diabetes may have a problem with the changes of their work shift because they may have set times to take medication and their diet can also affect how stable their condition is (Person At Work, 2017). Assessments should be given so that the employees have a say so on how to make sure employers are prepared for certain situations.

    There are many ways that diabetes can be prevented. However, there are certain things that can’t be changed such as genetic factors, age, and some past behaviors. Some ways to prevent diabetes include cutting sugar and refined cars from your diet, work out regularly, make water your primary beverage, lose weight if you are classified as overweight or obese, quit smoking, following a low carb diet, watch portion sizes, avoid sedentary behaviors, eat a high fiber diet, optimize vitamin D levels, minimize your intake of processed food, drink small amounts of coffee or tea, and consider taking natural herbs (Spritzler 2017).

    According to the American Diabetes Association, they use a prevalence-based approach to find the economic costs of diabetes. The prevalence-based approach combines demographics of the U.S. population with epidemiological data, diabetes prevalence, and health care cost. It also combines with economic data into a Cost of Diabetes Model. The age of a person, their sex, their race/ethnicity, their insurance coverage, their medical condition, and their health service category are all used to analyze medical costs and health resource use. Other data sources they use include national surveys, Medicare standard analytical files, and databases for the commercially insured population in the U.S.

    At the end of 2017, the American Diabetes Association performed a study that asses the economic burden of diagnosed diabetes in 2017. According to the study, the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2017 was $327 billion. $237 billion was included in direct medical cost as well as $90 billion in reduced productivity. The economic cost of diabetes had increased up to 26 percent from 2012 to 2017 because of the increased prevalence of diabetes and the increased cost per person that are living with diabetes (Supplementary Data 2018).

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has figured out that if you live in a rural area then there is a greater chance you will develop diabetes. The article, “Why Diabetes Is More Common in Rural Areas”, focused on the disparities that people who live in rural communities face when it comes to diabetes. There are various reasons why citizens of rural areas are more likely to develop diabetes. A few of those reasons include lack of education, lower income, obesity, smoking, less access to fresh produce, lack of doctors, and no health insurance. The lack of education is a problem because with right education about general health, healthy habits would be more prominent. Families that have a lower income wouldn’t be able to purchase healthier foods. They would most likely purchase sodas that are full of sugar or snacks that are empty nutritionally. Another disadvantage that lies within rural areas is that fresh produce can be limited in the areas, therefore meaning that some people living in rural communities are living in what are known as food deserts (Caceres 2017).

    Obesity is one of the main health problems that can be associated with diabetes. There has been a term developed that is known as “diabesity”. “Diabesity” refers to the link between diabetes and obesity. By increasing the awareness of diabetes, many issues could be eliminated. “Diabesity” does not have to exist, and there are things that we can do to fix that. In 2016, the state of Mississippi became known as the highest-ranking state for diabetes prevalence in the country ( People could work harder to maintain a healthy weight, eat more nutritious meals, and exercise regularly, to decrease the risk of developing diabetes., gave information about the Mississippi Diabetes Action Plan, which is an effort to help provide awareness and education about diabetes, how to prevent it, and how to manage it. That plan alone is a sign that we as a state are taking steps in the right direction to become healthier.

    Hypertension refers to abnormally high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against your artery walls as it goes through your body. This disease commonly leads to heart attack and stroke. Heart valve problems, heart failure, and arrhythmia are other effects of hypertension. Some effects such as headaches, shortness of breath, and nose bleeds may even become permanent if there is too much damage.

    Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Research has shown high blood pressure, or hypertension is more prevalent within black community because of family history, and they may carry a gene causing them to be salt sensitive. African Americans are seventy five percent more likely to have high blood pressure than any other race. The African American population tend to develop hypertension and diabetes at an early age. The diet of the African American community consists of too many salts and sugars putting them at a greater risk of having high blood pressure.

    The higher a patient’s blood pressure is the higher the risks of their artery narrowing or bursting. If an artery bursts that could lead to stroke or heart failure. Dieting, eating small portions of foods, staying active, and drinking plenty of water is a major key to avoiding high blood pressure. As well as avoid smoking. Smoking has proven to narrow the blood vessels.

    Being overweight or obese makes it extremely difficult to manage hypertension. Hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease all link to obesity in more ways than one. Excessive fat around the belly is another risk for contracting any of these diseases. Early detection is always key when dealing with any personal wellness issue.

    More than half of the deaths from obesity occur in low- and middle-income communities. Communities that are food deserts are more at risk for contracting this disease, and of course, poverty plays a key role in the healthcare individuals receive. Low income families suffer dramatically because they do not have access to the necessary health care for early detection of the disease. Whereas, high income individuals receive the proper treatment, and are educated on ways to avoid or lower risks of hypertension, and other diseases that can be developed from being obese. Despite all the rising media focus, there have been no dramatic results in deaths of hypertension. One of the reasons for this could possibly be that majority of the population is unknowingly already suffering from high blood pressure. Also, individuals are not taking heed to the knowledge that has been provided to them. People may think they will never suffer from such a serious disease and therefore, risk factors are taken lightly.

    Although trends in prevalence, treatment, and control of hypertension have been documented, to the authors’ knowledge changes in medical expenditures associated with hypertension have not yet been evaluated. After researching hypertension thoroughly, I gathered that healthcare facilities and administrators spend billions on just this disease alone. According to Zhang ,“in 2010, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that direct medical expenditures to treat hypertension were $733 per person and $42.9 billion nationwide. Because hypertension is an important risk factor for CVD, total medical expenditures associated with hypertension are expected to be much higher when spending for hypertension-associated treatment” (Zhang, 2017).

    Zhang also states, “Previous studies have shown that medication prescribed for hypertension accounted for $68 billion in health care expenditures in the U.S. in 2007, and expenses for hypertension-related hospitalization were $113 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars” (Zhang, 2017). “However, during 2000–2013, it is not clear how much medical spending in the U.S. is associated with hypertension or to what extent expenditures in this area have changed over time. This study analyzes the trend of medical expenditures associated with hypertension from 2000 to 2013 among U.S. adults” (Zhang, 2017).

    In the article, “Medical Expenditures Associated With Hypertension in the U.S”, we are told that data was analyzed in 2016, and researchers identified age, sex, and race for each individual in this study because those served as background information when studying this disease. The author stated, “Descriptive analyses for the prevalence of hypertension were first performed by stratifying the samples by age, sex, and race/ethnicity. Regression analyses were then conducted to estimate annual per-person medical expenditures associated with hypertension from 2000 to 2013. Because the outcome measures were medical expenditures that contained a large number of zero observations and had a skewed distribution” (Zhang, 2017).

    As of 2018, Mississippi is the number four for hypertension and number two for obesity. Many questions arise from those two alarming statistics, such as: What are we doing wrong as a state? what are we doing wrong in our schools to educate young people at an early age to watch what they eat? What are we as a community within the Pine Belt Area of Hattiesburg, Mississippi? One of the best ways for Mississippi to beat the evils of hypertension would be to heavily invest in an awareness program to educate the common causes and risk factors that contribute to it. Placing centers within African American communities would be helpful, seeing as they are the main portion of the population who are suffering.

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