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Americans’ Unhealthy Diets Cost More Than $50 Billion a Year: Study

Yuval Rosenberg

A new study published in the journal PLOS Medicine says that adopting better eating habits could save Americans more than $50 billion a year in health care costs due to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and related illnesses. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Tufts University in Massachusetts conclude that Americans’ unhealthy eating habits result in annual costs of about $300 per person — and that doesn’t factor in how dietary factors may contribute to other diseases such as cancer.

A separate study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine predicts that, by 2030, nearly half of Americans will be obese and nearly one in four will be severely obese. "The high projected prevalence of severe obesity among low-income adults has substantial implications for future Medicaid costs," said lead author Zachary Ward of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Aviva Must, chair of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, told CNN that the cost implications are broader: "The societal cost is high, both in terms of obesity-related health consequences and healthcare expenditures which could bring us to our knees." 

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