Undeniable truth in numbers
If there were any doubts about the correlation between obesity and health complications, then Gallup’s results also assisted in putting those to rest. According to the same survey, Colorado, Utah and California ranked first, fourth, and fifth in terms of lowest incidences of high blood pressure, while Colorado and Utah ranked second and sixth best in terms of lowest incidences of diabetes. In short, lower obesity rates are associated with fewer incidences of cardiovascular problems and diabetes.
These numbers are great news for health benefits providers like CIGNA Corporation (NYSE:CI) and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH). UnitedHealth is one of Colorado’s largest insurers, while CIGNA offers a big presence in Utah. If fewer people are dealing with high blood pressure and diabetes in these states, then UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) and CIGNA Corporation (NYSE:CI) would be expected to keep more of their premium as profit since people in these states should be visiting the doctor less often. Understandably the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will cap health insurers’ medical loss ratio at 80%, but this is still great news for insurers operating in these states.
Where we’re heading
With obesity rates leveling off over the past year we as a nation could be at the precipice of a reversal in our expanding waistlines. Naturally, for this trend to take off, it’ll take some combination of lifestyle change with regard to the foods we eat. It could also entail the use of chronic weight management drugs for those people where exercise and proper diet simply isn’t enough.
VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS)‘s Qsymia and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA)‘s Belviq are two relatively new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration that may fit this role nicely. Belviq is still awaiting final labeling from the Drug Enforcement Agency before it finds its way to pharmacy shelves, while Qsymia sales are finally starting to pick up as more insurers begin covering the out-of-pocket costs associated with the medication. It’s a bit tough to tell this early in the game which weight loss medication will prove to be the choice of physicians, with Qsymia providing the best weight loss results in trials and Belviq the slightly better safety profile; yet these two drugs are certain to play a major role in the coming years in terms of slimming waistlines in those who previously had little hope.
The article The 7 Least Obese U.S. States originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Sean Williams.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.The Motley Fool owns shares of, and recommends, McDonald’s and Starbucks. It also recommends UnitedHealth Group.
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