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Americans Increase Demand for Obesity Treatments in Brazil

Fewer than 2% of obese individuals in the United States are offered a prescription for weight-loss medications. More than two-thirds (70.7%) of American adults are considered overweight or obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly 40% are actually obese, having a BMI of 30 or above.

Brazilian Endocrinologist Flávio Cadegiani who noticed an increase of americans in his Medical Center Corpometria in Brazil (Credit: Onevox Solutions)

“Throughout the world, there seems to be difficulty understanding that obesity is a disease,” states endocrinologist Flávio Cadegiani, who noticed an increase in demand from Americans for obesity treatments in his medical center called Corpometria in Brazil in 2019. A 2014 report by McKinsey & Company has put the global economic burden of obesity at US$ 2 trillion per year, a figure that is already higher in 2019 and growing.

In the United States, a study by Marketdata Enterprises estimated that consumers spend about US$ 60 billion a year buying weight-loss products. Although spending is high, American doctors are 15 times more likely to prescribe therapies to treat diabetes than to treat obesity, according to a study published by The Obesity Society.

American doctors are not prescribing drugs and therapies to treat obesity, which has led more Americans to seek help in Brazil. Brazilian doctor Flávio Cadegiani says that when treated, obesity can prevent almost 200 diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes for example. “Another problem is that there is still a lot of medical prejudice when listening to obese patients; in general, professionals are more likely to hear non-obese patients,” he says.

The doctor also explains that in the United States, health insurance only covers one drug for obesity, while for other diseases the number of coverage of therapies and treatments is much higher. This discourages research into new treatments and drugs to combat obesity. This is the reason why Americans are starting to cross the border in search of health services.

Maintaining medical care in the United States may be more than twice the value of other large nations. Treatment costs and drugs are much higher in the U.S. The average annual expenditure of each American on pharmaceuticals is US$ 1,443 dollars – which is higher than in other countries, where the average ranges from US$ 466 to US$ 939 per person.

HEALTH TOURISM IN BRAZIL

A projection by the Brazilian Association of Health Tourism (Abratus) predicts that Brazil will receive more than 30k foreigners seeking medical care in 2019 and that the country will have added 2 million health tourists as of 2030, with annual growth around 20 percent in health tourism, according to the Medical Tourism Index of Global Healthcare Resources.