About a quarter of all Americans are obese. This week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that obesity-related diseases account for an estimated 147 billion dollars in medical costs annually in the United States. That"s 9.1 percent of all medical spending, up from 6.5 percent in 1998.
If you do the math, the report suggests we could pay the entire ten-year trillion-dollar bill for health care reform by lowering our obesity rate from 25 percent to 8 percent and thereby saving 100 billion dollars annually. And after ten years we'd have 100 billion dollars a year left over.
Obviously, we're failing miserably to curb the obesity epidemic. But is there a country with a low obesity rate that we can look to as an example? China comes immediately to mind. In recent years the obesity rate in China has soared as urbanization and Westernization have introduced an unhealthier diet and more sedentary lifestyle. But traditional Chinese culture still serves as a model we can study, leading to an obesity rate of only 2.6 percent in 2002. Just as experts are looking to countries around the world for ideas on how to fix our broken health care system, we should be exploring the traditions of other cultures -- now and in the past -- for ideas on how to follow healthier lifestyles.
During this week's CBS Doc Dot Com, I visit two Chinese physicians practicing in New York City who are trying to integrate the best of Eastern and Western medicine.
Eastern Medicine in Western Culture Pt. 2
Dr. Jon LaPook and Chinese physician Dr. Wang discuss the benefits of acupuncture and other common practices associated with Eastern medicine. Click here for video.
Eastern Medicine In Western Culture Pt. 3
Dr. Jon LaPook undergoes a traditional Chinese medicine exam. Click here for video.
Western Medicine For Chinese Patients
Dr. Jon LaPook speaks to Dr. Pong, a Chinese physician who practices Western medicine for a predominantly Chinese patient base. Click here for video.
Western Medicine For Chinese Patients Pt. 2
Dr. Pong, a Chinese physician who practices Western medicine, relates his experience growing up with Chinese medicine. Click here for video.