Quality-Adjusted Life Years Lost Due to Obesity Swells

From 1993 to 2008, QALYs lost in U.S. adults more than doubled; obesity rate up 89.9 percent
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost among U.S. adults as the result of obesity more than doubled from 1993 to 2008, a period during which the nation's obesity prevalence increased by 89.9 percent, according to a report published online Aug. 3 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Haomiao Jia, Ph.D., of Columbia University, and Erica I. Lubetkin, M.D., of The City College of New York -- both in New York City, analyzed data from the 1993 to 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to identify trends in U.S. population health burdens related to obesity. The researchers determined obesity prevalence trends, and estimated obesity-related QALYs lost by U.S. adults (defined as QALYs lost due to morbidity and future QALYs lost in expected life years because of premature deaths).

The researchers found that 0.0204 QALYs were lost per person due to obesity in 1993, which increased to 0.0464 QALYs lost per person in 2008, a 127 percent increase. Black women had the most QALYs lost because of obesity in 2008, at 0.0676 per person -- 31 percent higher than for black men and about 50 percent higher than for white men and women. Meanwhile, the obesity prevalence for U.S. adults increased from 14.1 percent in 1993 to 26.7 percent in 2008, an 89.9 percent increase.

"This analysis enables the overall impact of obesity on both morbidity and mortality to be examined using a single value. The overall health burden of obesity has increased since 1993 and such increases were observed in all gender-by-race subgroups and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia," the authors write.

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