High Cost of Obesity

Obesity is a costly affliction impacting the economic health of our country. In the U.S. an obese adult costs tens of thousands of dollars in medical care and lost wages according to a new study.

Using estimations on the financial toll that obesity typically takes at various ages, the researchers found that an obese 50-year-old with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels cost more than $36,000. The figures included medical care for obesity-related diseases, along with lost productivity from disability or time off from work.

Researchers noted how obesity affects individuals and also society as a whole. Since obesity contributes to a variety of chronic health conditions and diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, it ultimately impacts everyone by increased health insurance premiums.

What researchers found is that if someone who is obese loses weight, they could bring big cost savings not only for themselves but also the country too.

For example, researchers estimated that if an obese 20-year-old lost enough weight to be considered overweight, nearly two-thirds of his lifetime costs to society could be obsolete.

There are benefits to losing weight beyond age 20. For example, if a healthy but obese 70-year-old lost enough weight to be considered overweight, then his lifetime costs could be reduced by nearly 40 percent according to the study. Therefore, there’s cost savings to weight loss at any age.

With two-thirds of American adults obese or overweight, it’s safe to say that if each obese person lost weight then our societal savings would be substantial.

The findings of the study appear in the October issue of the journal Obesity.