Saturday June 9, 2012

I read Rex Smith’s column on the June 6 Eagle editorial page with interest ("Paying for your obesity.")

Creating awareness of the growing obesity epidemic is a good first step in addressing this important public health issue. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) over one third of the adult population is obese (2012, http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html). This is more than double the rate of obesity a mere 20 years ago.

The research and cost data that Mr. Smith cites was dramatically under-stated. In fact, the annual cost of obesity reported by the researchers at Cornell and Lehigh Universities that appeared in the Journal of Health Economics is $190 Billion (not million) -- roughly 20 percent of total medical expenditures in this country. The obesity epidemic has many causes. Some of these causes we as individuals can influence, others, such as subsidies to producers of corn syrup and food in our schools, are a function of social and public policies.

We should all think about ways we can improve in both of these areas.

DUNCAN P. RYANMANN

Pittsfield

The writer is a mentor, Troy Unit, Northeast Center Empire State College.