Economic costs related to overweight and obesity

As the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased in the United States, so have related health care costs-both direct and indirect. Direct health care costs refer to preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services (for example, physician visits, medications, and hospital and nursing home care). Indirect costs are the value of wages lost by people unable to work because of illness or disability, as well as the value of future earnings lost by premature death.

Most of the statistics presented below represent the economic cost of overweight and obesity in the United States in 1995, updated to 2001 dollars. Unless otherwise noted, the statistics given are adapted from Wolf and Colditz,24 who based their data on existing epidemiological studies that defined overweight and obesity as a BMI > 29. Because the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased since 1995, the costs today are higher than the figures given here.

Q: What is the cost of overweight and obesity?

A: Total cost: $117 billion , Direct cost: $61 billion,* Indirect cost: $56 billion (comparable to the economic costs of cigarette smoking)

Q: What is the cost of heart disease related to overweight and obesity?

A: Direct cost: $8.8 billion (17 percent of the total direct cost of heart disease, independent of stroke)

Q: What is the cost of type 2 diabetes related to overweight and obesity?

A: Total cost: $98 billion (in 2001)
Q: What is the cost of osteoarthritis related to overweight and obesity?

A: Total cost: $21.2 billion, Direct cost: $5.3 billion, Indirect cost: $15.9 billion

Q: What is the cost of hypertension (high blood pressure) related to overweight and obesity?

A: Direct cost: $4.1 billion (17 percent of the total cost of hypertension)
Q: What is the cost of gallbladder disease related to overweight and obesity?

A: Total cost: $3.4 billion, Direct cost: $3.2 billion, Indirect cost: $187 million

Q: What is the cost of cancer related to overweight and obesity?

A: Breast cancer: Total cost: $2.9 billion, Direct cost: $1.1 billion, Indirect cost: $1.8 billion

Endometrial cancer: Total cost: $933 million, Direct cost: $310 million, Indirect cost: $623 million

Colon cancer: Total cost: $3.5 billion, Direct cost: $1.3 billion, Indirect cost: $2.2 billion

Q: What is the cost of lost productivity related to obesity?

A: The cost of lost productivity related to obesity (BMI > 30) among Americans ages 17-64 is $3.9 billion. This value considers the following annual numbers (for 1994):

  •   Workdays lost related to obesity: 39.3 million
      Physician office visits related to obesity: 62.7 million
      Restricted activity days related to obesity: 239.0 million
      Bed-days related to obesity: 89.5 million

    A recent study estimated annual medical spending due to overweight and obesity (BMI > 25) to be as much as $92.6 billion in 2002 dollars (9.1 percent of U.S. health expenditures)

    Provided by ArmMed Media
    Revision date: June 14, 2011
    Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.