Health insurers gathered in Las Vegas for AHIP 2013 received a tutorial on the nation’s obesity problem and ways that insurers can help combat it from David Kirchoff, CEO at Weight Watchers International.

Daily food consumption is up by 250 calories today compared with the caloric consumption in 1970, he noted. Obesity costs the nation’s health system $250 billion a year, and at the current rate of obesity one-third of Americans will have diabetes by 2050. However, a 10 percent loss in weight can cut the risk for diabetes by 60 percent.

Kirchoff said there are only two simple rules to losing weight: start dealing with it and keep dealing with it. And health insurers are well-positioned to help meet both rules by offering programs that support the keys to success: education, behavioral change techniques, inner motivation and external motivation.

“We need to build an environment where people don’t expect to fail,” he implored the payers. That’s what happens when consumers seek to lose weight, quit smoking or otherwise improve their health--they try, but go into the process expecting to fail. Consequently, insurers must set up support programs to improve health status. “If you’re not there, it’s not going to happen.”

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