Estimated Cost of Obesity Is $300 Billion Per Year

Excess medical care, estimated at $127 billion, is the largest part of this annual cost

MONDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The economic cost of overweight and obesity is estimated at $300 billion per year in the United States and Canada, with 90 percent of the total cost attributed to the United States, according to a study published in December by the Society of Actuaries.

Donald F. Behan, Ph.D., from the Georgia State University Center for Risk Management and Insurance Research in Atlanta, and colleagues reviewed almost 500 research articles on obesity and associated morbidity and mortality. The study examined the economic costs resulting from increased requirements for medical care, loss of economic productivity due to excess mortality, and disability.

The investigators estimated the total economic cost of being overweight (body mass index [BMI] between 25.0 and 29.9) and of obesity (BMI at or over 30). The main economic costs included excess medical care ($127 billion), loss of productivity due to excess mortality ($49 billion), economic loss of productivity for active workers due to disability ($43 billion), and loss of productivity caused by total disability ($72 billion).

"The total economic cost of overweight and obesity in the United States and Canada caused by medical costs, excess mortality, and disability is approximately $300 billion per year. The proportion of this total due to overweight is approximately $80 billion and approximately $200 billion is due to obesity," the authors write.

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