Sign up for AARP's The Daily newsletter for more great tips Monday through Friday.
by Carole Carson, AARP, January 14, 2010
In the future, our wealth may depend upon our health. That's because one of the unfortunate by-products of being overweight and out of shape is the risk of increased medical expenses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the most common medical problems (heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some forms of cancer) are linked with excess weight and lack of fitness.
As the numbers on the scale climb, so do the numbers of medically uninsured people. Today, experts estimate that more than 43 million Americans under age 65 lack medical insurance. Moreover, a disproportionate number of the uninsured are young adults (ages 19 to 29). While young adults make up 17 percent of the under-65 population, they represent 30 percent of that group’s uninsured.
According to Commonwealth Fund data through 2007, more than 13 million people age 19 to 29 had no health insurance. Uninsured young adults are living without medical care, including doctor visits, prescriptions, and necessary treatments. When young adults have to choose between paying the rent and buying food or receiving medical care, they often bypass medical care.
While older Americans have their advocacy groups and other nonprofits are sensitive to children’s needs, young adults have few advocates in the health care system or in the government. Moreover, we can’t assume that youth protects these young adults from requiring medical care. Indeed, their medical needs are not inconsequential. Obesity, which has medical consequences, increased by 70 percent in this age group in the 1990s alone. Plus, there are 3.5 million pregnancies in this age group each year.
Since I lost weight and changed my lifestyle, I’ve encouraged everyone who is independent and of age to adopt healthy habits. Sometimes I appeal to vanity: I ask people to reflect on how much better they will feel and look if they lose weight and exercise regularly.
Increasingly, though, the economics of health care makes the most compelling argument: We can’t afford the option of getting ill. Getting and staying fit can safeguard your health. In the face of that difficult reality, to enhance your wealth, preserve your health.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Visit the AARP state page for information about events, news and resources near you.
WW will help you build a customized weight loss plan
25% off the first healthy meal delivery of $99+.
Give or get help during the Coronavirus pandemic
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at