Public Sector Funds Large Part of State Obesity-Related Costs

State medical expenses would be nearly 7 to 11 percent lower in the absence of obesity

MONDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Between 22 and 55 percent of U.S. state-level obesity-related costs are financed by the public sector via Medicare and Medicaid, according to a study published online June 16 in Obesity.

Justin G. Trogdon, Ph.D., from RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and colleagues expanded on prior analyses of state-level obesity cost estimates to quantify current expenditures attributable to obesity, and estimated the obesity-attributable fraction of total, Medicare, and Medicaid expenditures and the percentage of total obesity costs within each state funded by the public sector. An equation that predicts annual medical expenditures as a function of obesity status was generated from the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey that includes information on obesity and medical expenditures. This equation, the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and state representative data were used to predict state (and payer within state) expenditures and the fraction of expenditures attributable to obesity for each U.S. state.

The investigators found that annual medical expenditures across all states would be 6.7 to 10.7 percent lower in the absence of obesity. Public sector financing via Medicare and Medicaid ranged from 22 percent (Virginia) to 55 percent (Rhode Island) of the state-level costs of obesity.

"The high costs of obesity at the state level emphasize the need to prevent and control obesity as a way to manage state medical costs," the authors write.

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