wellmark-bcbs-logoAn insurance company report on the health of Iowans finds obesity is a common underlying factor that contributes to the most costly conditions among its members.

Becky Wampler is director of health care sustainability for Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, which compiled the report.

“Many of the most costly conditions are directly linked to obesity,” Wampler says. “Obesity is a driver of more than 50 chronic conditions and we’re seeing that as being a significant driver of health care spending.” Wampler lists the top five most costly conditions for policy holders.

She says, “Those are cancers and there’s a variety of cancers, bone injuries and joint disorders, heart conditions, digestive disorders and back pain.” Wampler says the company is working to address the issue though it comes down to Iowans taking an active role in trying to live healthier lives.

“Of the factors that influence our health, we can impact 70% of those factors,” she says. “A lot of it is our own healthy behavior and another portion of that is the environment in which we live. In fact, there are some people who will say your overall health may be predicated more on the ZIP code you live in as opposed to your genetic code.” See the full report at www.welmark.com.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)