328 W. Claiborne St.
P.O. Box 964
Monroeville, Alabama 36460
(251) 575-4203
Health Policy & Advocacy
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
What to Do If Someone's Bleeding BadlyAre Good Kidneys Going to Waste?U.S. Gun Sales Rose After Sandy Hook Massacre: StudyCreating Your Family Health TreeLocal Smoke-Free Laws Tied to Fewer Lung Cancer CasesYour Doc Is Away? Substitute Doctors a Safe Option, Study FindsChecking Prices for Medical Procedures Online? Good LuckPatients More Prone to Complain About Younger DoctorsPatients Often Uncomfortable With Overlapping SurgeriesClinician Denial of Patient Requests Impacts SatisfactionPatients React Poorly When Docs Say 'No'Memo to Doctors: Spit Out the Bad NewsDoubts Raised About Use of Products Containing OxybenzoneReport: Industry Hid Decades-Old Study Showing Sugar's Unhealthy EffectsMany Health Care Providers Work While SickMore Patients Are Having a Say in Their Medical CareFDA Seeks to Speed Development of 'Regenerated' Organs for Medical UseHealth Care Experts in Favor of Patient Contribution to NotesMillions Could Miss Out on a Potential Alzheimer's BreakthroughU.S. May Still Benefit From Climate AccordHealth Tip: Spread Awareness of the Opioid EpidemicKnowing Too Much About Your Genes Might Be RiskyHealth Tip: Participating in a Clinical TrialMusic, Video Help Sixth-Graders Master Hands-Only CPRIncreases in U.S. Health Spending Tied to Health Service PriceHealth Tip: Prevent Germs at the Doctor's OfficeInfo Via Social Media Apps May Increase Vaccine AcceptanceIt's 'Buyer Beware' When Purchasing Medical Pot Extract OnlineGetting Self-Driving Cars on the Road Soon Might Save LivesHealth Tip: Defining Health LiteracyDoctor Burnout: A Big Health Threat in U.S.About Half of Americans Get Health Care in ERPricing Interventions Increase Sales, Intake of Healthy FoodsHealth Tip: Get to Know Your PharmacistRobots May Be Cleaning Your Hospital Room SoonCMS Launches Initiative to Examine Impact of RegulationsPatients Prefer Face-to-Face Communication, No ComputerDrop Off Your Unused Meds Saturday on 'Take Back Day'Concerns Surround Use of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic TestingMost Patients Satisfied With Relationship With PhysicianModule Developed to Improve Adult Vaccination RatesA Drug Company's Gift Might Change How Your Doctor PrescribesAlmost 4 in 10 Tanning Salons Flout State LawsDEA Taking Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs on Oct. 28Most in U.S. Don't Agree That Household Guns Up Suicide RiskCan Gun Shows Trigger Gun Violence?Tighter Rules on Arsenic in Water Saved Lives: StudyHerbal and Dietary Supplements Are Commonly Mislabeled3 Million Americans Say They Carry Handguns Every DayMany Dermatology Guideline Authors Get Industry Payments
Related Topics

Health Insurance

U.S. Pays a Hefty Price for Obesity

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Sep 26th 2017

new article illustration

TUESDAY, Sept. 26, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. adult who is "healthy" but obese could eventually cost society tens of thousands of dollars in medical care and lost wages, a new study estimates.

Using a computer model, researchers estimated the financial toll that obesity typically takes at different ages. They found, for example, that an obese 50-year-old with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels will end up costing society more than $36,000.

That societal figure included people's direct medical care for obesity-related diseases, along with lost productivity from disability or time off from work.

The researchers said the findings offer a look at how obesity affects individuals, and society.

"When folks struggle with their weight, it ends up affecting everyone," said senior researcher Dr. Bruce Lee. He's an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Because obesity contributes to a range of chronic health conditions -- such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers -- it ultimately raises everyone's health insurance premiums, Lee said.

Of course, he added, the costs hit the individual, too.

"You're paying the insurance premium and the copays," Lee said. "And if your productivity is reduced, that affects your wallet, too."

On the other hand, Lee's team found, weight loss could bring big cost savings.

The researchers estimated that if an obese 20-year-old shed enough pounds to drop to the overweight category, almost two-thirds of his lifetime costs to society could be avoided.

Plus, Lee said, there are benefits to losing weight well beyond age 20. If a healthy but obese 70-year-old crossed to the overweight category, her lifetime costs could be cut by about 40 percent, the study found.

"So weight loss is cost-saving at any age," Lee said.

In the United States, it's estimated that two-thirds of adults are obese or overweight.

Ted Kyle is a spokesperson for the Obesity Society and founder of ConscienHealth, which advocates for "evidence-based approaches" to addressing obesity.

"This study really documents the costs of untreated obesity -- which is the norm in this country," said Kyle, who was not involved in the research.

He said that Americans who are struggling with their weight usually just get "casual advice" from their doctors to eat better and exercise.

"I think it's safe to say that most people do not get the kind of help that research has shown to be effective," Kyle said.

As an example, he pointed to the Diabetes Prevention Program, which involves "intensive" counseling on diet, exercise and behavior modification. A large U.S. government study found that the program slashed the risk of type 2 diabetes among overweight, at-risk adults -- after only a modest amount of weight loss.

The program is now widely available, Kyle said, including at local YMCAs. Still, many people do not know about it.

"It's a good place to start," he said.

The "casual advice" route is unlikely to cut it, according to Kyle. "Because guess what?" he said. "It has already occurred to most people that they need to change their diet and exercise."

What many obese people need, Kyle said, is more intensive help with changing "deeply entrenched bad habits."

Lee agreed that losing weight is a major challenge. "And the biggest challenge is, of course, that you want permanent weight loss, not yo-yo dieting," he said.

"There are no overnight solutions," Lee said. "It takes long-term changes in diet and physical activity. And for some people, medication or surgery are appropriate."

For the study, Lee and colleagues used a computer model to estimate the lifetime medical costs and lost productivity of obese individuals at different ages. They pulled data from several large U.S. health studies to gauge people's odds of developing various diseases over a lifetime.

Overall, the study found, people who were currently healthy but obese could eventually cost society anywhere from about $17,000 to just over $36,000 -- depending on their age. (Fifty-year-olds cost the most, while 80-year-olds cost the least.)

"This is an important study," Kyle said. "It shows just how costly obesity can be if it's untreated. It's not about weight and appearance. It's about your health."

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

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has advice on weight management.

328 W. Claiborne St.
P.O. Box 964
Alabama 36460
Tel: (251)575-4203

powered by centersite dot net