Federal Spending on Diabetes Highlights Need for Obesity Prevention

June 26, 2007

by Rochelle Davis, HSC Executive Director

When working to create school environments which promote healthy eating and lifestyles, we are motivated by our concern for children’s health and ability to learn. A recently released study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Group for the National Changing Diabetes Program calls attention to another important ramification of obesity epidemic. 

According to the study, one out of every eight U.S. Federal health care dollars is spent treating people with diabetes, one of the most common medical conditions resulting from obesity. Using 2005 data, the student found that the government spends more than $79.7 billion more to treat people with the disease, or some 12 percent of the $645 billion in total federal health care spending.

This is another compelling reason why political, corporate and education leaders need to band together to prevent obesity. Research suggests that a school environment that serves healthy food, teaches students about nutrition and provides opportunities for physical activity can have an impact on children’s lifestyles. This study provides the federal government with another compelling reason to take action now to support schools in their efforts to create this type of healthy environment. 

One of the ways in which Congress could make a difference is by supporting a number of provisions of the Farm Bill that set standards for food available in schools, support farm-to-school programs or provide funding for fresh fruits and vegetables.