Obesity, Overweight Carry Heavy Financial Burden

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , September 22, 2010

In addition, through Medicare and Medicaid, the government pays a significant portion of direct medical costs for their beneficiaries, the study shows.

The study's authors said their findings create only a partial look at the individual costs related to obesity, because existing research on the topic doesn't take into consideration consumer-related costs such as clothing, air travel, automobile size, or furniture.

Not surprisingly, the study found that incremental costs are much higher based on the degrees of obesity. Total incremental costs for obese women are more than nine times higher than those for overweight women. For obese men, the incremental costs are six times higher than for overweight men.

For the larger society, direct medical costs due to overweight and obesity are sizeable. For example, with estimates that incremental obesity-related direct medical costs total $152 billion annually. The study cites other studies that suggest that direct costs attributable to obesity could double from 2010 to 2020 and account for 15.8% - 17.6% of national health care expenditures in 2030.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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