The health troubles we're seeing now — especially among young people — will continue to strain the system for years and even decades to come, Axios' Sam Baker writes.
The big picture: Rising obesity rates now will translate into rising rates of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The costs of the opioid crisis will continue to mount even after the acute crisis ends. And all of this will strain what's already the most expensive health care system in the world.
By the numbers: 18% of American kids are now obese, according to new CDC data. So are roughly 40% of adults. And it's projected to get worse.
- That helps explain why diabetes rates are also rising, and why roughly 30% of adults have high blood pressure.
Why it matters: More obese children means there will be more adults down the road with chronic conditions like diabetes, and these diseases in turn increase the risk of further complications, such as kidney disease and stroke.
- Diabetes roughly doubles your lifetime health care bills, according to the CDC, and costs the U.S. a total of $245 billion per year.
We're only beginning to see the full costs of the opioid crisis, even though it has raged for years.
- A White House report earlier this week pegged the cost of the epidemic at a staggering $696 billion in 2018 alone, and many survivors of the epidemic will face long-term health costs.
The bottom line: The U.S. health care system rewards doctors and hospitals for performing more treatment on sick people, and those treatments are expensive. That leaves big gaps in prevention, which drives the need for more expensive treatment.
- That's how we ended up with the world's most expensive health care system, but without a particularly healthy population to show for it. And that trajectory isn't changing.