The National Center for Health Statistics reports obesity in America has reached alarming rates. It is one of the biggest drivers of healthcare costs that are estimated to range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year. 68.5% of adults are overweight and 34.9% are obese. Obesity among children and adolescents has escalated. 31.8% are overweight and 16.9% are obese. This is alarming and preventable. Certainly obesity has a negative effect as it increases diabetes and other health conditions.
In a critical care situation where a helicopter is called for transport, it is estimated 5,000 US patients are denied helicopter transport each year because they are too heavy or large to fit in an aircraft. This has created a dilemma for air transport providers. In an NBC report, Craig Yale, vice president of corporate development for Air Methods said, “It’s an issue for sure. We can get to a scene and find the patient is too heavy to be able to go.” If a patient is too large or heavy to fit in the helicopter, they may not be able to receive the urgent care they need in a fast enough manner. In some cases patients simply cannot fit through the doors. In some instances, an overweight person may be able to fit into the aircraft, but their weight can sometimes prevent a helicopter from lifting off the ground. This can pose a dangerous risk to all on board. A helicopter crashed in New York’s East River in October 2011 because it was over capacity by 50 pounds.
Americans seem to be sleep walking as they go about getting larger and larger compromising their health and setting poor examples for their children. Helicopter transport services face having to deny service or invest in larger helicopters. Obesity is something we need to address in schools and various healthcare facilities by focusing on the problem and teaching sound nutrition. It can be difficult because when you attempt to mention the problem, a person may feel insulted and defensive. Still, programs need to be set in place to prevent this condition. It’s in everyone’s best interest.