Addressing Obesity With Innovation

1 out of 3 Americans obese

woman holding measuring tape

One out of every three American adults are now obese.

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To reverse this trend, we need innovative approaches to obesity, and we need them now. While new strategies and treatments are currently in the pipeline, will they be enough to prevent American healthcare from being crushed by the massive costs of treating obesity and its consequences?

How obesity affects overall health

The health problems associated with obesity are many. Obese people die at an earlier age; they are at higher risk of hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease, venous thromboembolism, various cancers, sleep apnea, liver disease, pancreatic disease, and even some psychiatric disorders. They are also at higher risk of diabetes, which directly raises the risk of deadly heart disease.

In 2008, the annual medical costs of obesity were estimated to be $147 billion – or 61 percent of our national healthcare costs. And these costs have surely risen since then. People who are obese are more likely to have work limitations, experience on-the-job-injuries, and file for Workers Compensation than their peers.

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Addressing the problem

There are programs that have successfully helped people lose weight and keep it off. But for every person who loses weight, another is gaining it. Childhood obesity rates have risen drastically in recent decades. This does not bode well for the future. Things have clearly gotten out of balance.

Innovation is the answer to this and most other pressing issues in healthcare.

We need new concepts, new insights and new technology. That’s why I eagerly anticipate the next Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit, taking place October 14 to 16, 2013, at the Global Center for Health Innovation in downtown Cleveland. The subject of this year’s summit is “Finding Balance through Innovation: Obesity, Diabetes & the Metabolic Crisis.”

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Some of the biggest names in medicine, industry, law, government and media will be there to preview, discuss and learn about the most advanced technology and treatments for obesity, diabetes and metabolic disorders.

It’s one of the best places to hear and meet the scientists, investors and leading edge thinkers who are driving the future of medical innovation. Working together, we can meet the challenges of obesity and steer our nation toward a leaner, healthier future.

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Delos M. Cosgrove, MD

Delos M. Cosgrove, MD, is President and CEO of Cleveland Clinic, where he presides over a $6.7 billion healthcare system.
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