Many Americans are carrying around some excess pounds. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, 66% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese (61.6% of women and 70.5% of men). The prevalence of overweight adults has steadily increased over the years among all genders, ages, races, and educational levels. Staying out of this majority may save you money.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the more overweight you are, the more you increase your risk for the following expensive medical conditions: Hypertension, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, liver disease, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, and some cancers. Losing weight decreases your chances of having to empty your wallet an average of $10,000, according to a 2004 USDA report.
While health problems deplete savings, an overweight person may have difficulty accumulating savings in the first place. A recently completed 15-year Ohio State University study showed that for every one-point increase in Body Mass Index (a ratio of weight to height), baby boomers’ net worth fell $1000 on average. The typical female baby boomer earns $313.70 less per year for each one-point BMI increase, whereas male baby boomers lose $161.30 in earnings for each one-point increase, due to a variety of factors.
On the flip side, it may seem like you need to spend a lot of money to lose weight on things like supplements, diet foods, and books. However, a study published in February 2009 in The New England Journal of Medicine compared four well-known diets (low-carb, low-fat, etc.) and found they all produced similar results, showing that it doesn’t matter which diet you pick. What matters more is your level of motivation—finding a program you can stick with is the biggest controller of success.
Focus on staying motivated. If you are motivated enough on your own to consume less calories, increase exercise, and learn healthier eating habits, then it won’t cost you much. If you find you need more to stay motivated, start with an inexpensive guide book. If you find you need to join a weight loss program to stay motivated, the investment you make now will save you loads of money in medical bills and quality of life in the long run.
Your primary care physician can give you basic guidelines for a healthy diet, or can refer you to a nutritionist for specialized help.