Background: The increasing prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), among children and adults, has posed important policy and budgetary considerations to government, health insurance companies, employers, physicians, and health care delivery systems.
Objective: This article examines issues that are common to obesity and DM, including cost, clinical research, and treatment barriers, and proposes health policies to address these issues.
Method: A manual review was performed of authoritative literature from peer-reviewed medical publications and recently published medical textbooks.
Results: Obesity has been disproportionately prevalent among women and minorities, accompanied by an increased risk for DM. Women have experienced an increased risk for the metabolic syndrome, DM, and cardiovascular disease after onset of menopause. Obesity has been related to an increased risk for breast cancer among women, and may be a barrier that prevents women from being screened for colon and breast cancers. Maternal obesity has been a risk factor for gestational DM.
Conclusions: Obesity and DM represent crises for the health care system and the health of the public, incurring costs and disease burden for adults and children, with increasing costs and prevalence expected unless more coordinated efforts to address the causes of these conditions at the national level are implemented. An investment in infrastructure to promote increased physical activity and reward weight management may be budget neutral in the long term by reducing the costs of morbidity and mortality. About two thirds of the costs from DM complications could be averted with appropriate primary care.