Losing Weight: Healthier Wallet

Lose Weight - Get A Break-------------------------The American Obesity Association (AOA) wants to givenew meaning to getting a deduction.

Losing weightshould get you a deduction. The non-profit advocacyorganization is trying to change IRS policy to allowtaxpayers to deduct the cost of weight loss treatments.The AOA and 10 other organizations (including WeightWatchers, Jenny Craig, several pharmaceutical companies,professional societies, and consumer advocate groups)petitioned the IRS last year to reverse the revenue rulingthat includes weight loss among such other non-deductiblecategories as cosmetic surgery and health clubs, anduntil recently, smoking cessation programs.Smokers Get A Break "---------------------People with obesity who are tryingto control their weight do not get the kind of support fortheir health care choices like people with other conditionsdo.

Last spring the IRS reversed the policy they had whichdid not allow the medical deduction for smoking cessationprograms," Morgan Downey, the AOA's executive director."We decided when we looked at the IRS? action, that itreally didn't make much sense. Nearly as many people dieprematurely from obesity in this country as from smoking,the effectiveness of obesity treatments are generallymore effective than the smoking cessation treatments,and we think people ought to be treated fairly," Downeysays.Weight Loss Programs Should Get The Same Break as SmokingCessation Programs---------------------------------------------------------The AOA would like to see weight loss treatments includedin the same category of allowable medical expenses liketreatments for heart disease or stroke.

According toDowney, the IRS responded to the petition last October bysaying consideration would be given to reverse the revenueruling if facts were provided establishing either thatobesity itself is a disease, or weight loss by an obeseperson could prevent the onset of disease.The AOA responded with an "exhaustive submission coveringboth of those bases," Downey says. "It almost gets to thepoint, why did we ask this question in the first place,it's so obvious, but of course, it isn't, there's still alot of misunderstanding about obesity."The AOA wants the reversal to allow deductions for thecosts of comprehensive obesity treatment, includingsurgery, pharmacology, behavioral counseling, andprograms for the specific purpose of weight maintenanceand loss.

Downey says he's "optimistic" the IRS will rulein their favor based on the strength of the evidence intheir 58-page submission to the agency.Obesity Is Considered A Chronic Disease---------------------------------------Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD says obesity is considered a"chronic disease, it has actually been classified adisease. It's probably the biggest chronic health problemthat we have in the United States." Rosenbloom is anassociate professor of nutrition at Georgia StateUniversity in Atlanta.

Rosenbloom says obesity can lead to high blood pressure,increased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes,and possibly even certain types of cancers. According tothe AOA, about 55% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.

The health care costs for treating diseases caused byobesity, such as diabetes and heart disease, was over$100 billion in 1999 alone.Medicare And Medicaid Next?---------------------------Downey says the AOA is "working with some of the managedcare associations and Medicare. We're going to be lookingat Medicaid hopefully in the near future. We obviouslywant to see them provide better coverage.

" But Downeysays the IRS and the insurance industry are two verydifferent issues. The IRS is more cut-and-dry, and thequestions associated with it are not as complex.The IRS has to interpret obesity as a medical problem. Untilit does, it is doubtful that tax relief will come.

Eventhough medical deductions qualify after seven and a halfpercent of your adjusted gross income. If you were making$100,000 a year, you would have to have over $7,500 beforeyou could deduct it. Most people don't. Downey agrees"it's a very small category, but in our view, particularlyfor people who need bariatric [obese-specific] surgery,which is going to be $8,000 to $12,000, or so andfrequently is not covered by insurance plans, that probablyis the individual who is going to benefit from this change.

Most middle class people would have to go to a lot of WeightWatchers meetings to get up to that level."There has been a 40% increase in the number of obese peoplesince 1980 and the incidence of obesity in children isrising. This is an issue that needs to be addressed.About The Author----------------Michael Lewis has been collecting articles and informationon Weight Loss and HGH (Human Growth Hormone and relatedhealth benefits.

He has created and edits numerous websites about this subject. Michael is a staff writer forwww.ageforce.com and several other websites.

If you wouldlike to contact Michael you can e-mail him atMichael@AgeForce.com or if you would like to know moreabout Weight Loss, HGH (Human Growth Hormone) and relatedhealth topics please visit us at .ageforce.com.

Michael Lewis has been collecting articles and informationon Weight Loss and HGH (Human Growth Hormone and relatedhealth benefits. He has created and edits numerous websites about this subject. Michael is a staff writer forwww.ageforce.

com and several other websites. If you wouldlike to contact Michael you can e-mail him atMichael@AgeForce.com or if you would like to know moreabout Weight Loss, HGH (Human Growth Hormone) and relatedhealth topics please visit us at .ageforce.

com.Contact him at .ageforce.com



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