Over the years, the women in our family have often joked about being cursed as soon as we reach adulthood. We joke about that curse because it seems like when we reach the age of 18, we gain a ton of weight.
Whether it’s hormones, how we eat, or genetics — it happens. It happened to me. It happened to my cousins. It seems like it happens to us all.
Neither my mom’s side of the family nor my dad’s are particularly healthy.
That leaves me, who became a mother at an older age, constantly worrying about what that means for my future. Weight is an issue for me. It has been for years.
However, when you work hard to lose weight, follow all the rules, and lose three pounds in a month but gain five on a day where you cheat — the enthusiasm to try wavers.
That leads to conversations with my doctor. What am I supposed to do? I often ask, explaining my family’s history, and telling her that I am trying.
She even agrees. She’s prescribed phentermine. After all, my insurance company will pay for that. Sure — it curbs my food cravings for a bit but does not help with my long-term goals.
Then, last year, she prescribed another drug that is said to be working for women my age. As a woman hits her 40s, it often feels like the “woman my age” scenario is considered a lot.
However, the weight loss drug was never picked up or used because my insurance company refused to pay. Out-of-pocket it was nearly $1,000 per month with recommendations to take it for three months or more.
Like many, I do not have $1,000 in extra cash lying in the bank account or under my mattress.
That meant the help was a no-go. My brothers are going through similar issues. One tried phentermine but did not have luck. Eventually, he was approved through the VA to get lap band surgery. He has lost weight, feels good, and is doing well.
My other brother was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal condition that helped him lose weight. I would rather not take that route.
I am still left wondering what to do — even researching generic options at non-traditional medical sites online.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “Despite growing recognition of the problem, the obesity epidemic continues in the U.S., and obesity rates are increasing around the world. The latest estimates are that approximately 34% of adults and 15-20% of children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese. Obesity affects every segment of the U.S. population.”
But — my biggest issue is when will weight and obesity be designated what it should be — an actual health issue that insurance companies have to pay for. It is not just associated with how someone eats. It is genetics, hormones and so many other issues than just saying someone is irresponsible.
How much better would our world be if insurance had to pay to help people get healthy and prevent being diagnosed with conditions like diabetes and heart failure?
So many conditions are tied to weight. If weight-loss help became more accessible, imagine the possibilities.
Preventable diseases would indeed be prevented. As a society, we would be much healthier.
And it is not just healthcare. Obesity also has an economic impact on society that should be considered as more weight-loss drugs are proving effective but unavailable to many.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Annual nationwide productivity costs of obesity-related absenteeism range between $3.38 billion ($79 per individual with obesity) and $6.38 billion ($132 per individual with obesity).”
Obesity is its own epidemic and those truly seeking help should be able to find it and afford it.