Carrying additional weight in the form of visceral fat tissue is harmful to health and life expectancy over the long term. This fat is metabolically active, producing significant increases in chronic inflammation, and that in turn drives the development and progression of all of the major age-related diseases. A couple of studies from a few years back put some numbers to the direct financial costs for an individual, finding that lifetime medical costs trend upwards as excess body weight increases, even as life expectancy decreases. This study is similar in nature:
Helping an adult lose weight leads to significant cost savings at any age, a new study suggests. From the findings, a 20-year-old adult who goes from being obese to overweight would save an average of $17,655 in direct medical costs and productivity losses over his or her lifetime. If the same person were to go from being obese to a healthy weight, an average savings of $28,020 in direct medical costs and productivity losses can occur. Helping a 40-year-old adult go from being obese to overweight can save an average of $18,262. If the same person went from being obese to normal weight, an average savings of $31,447 can follow.
A high body mass index (BMI)diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Subsequently, a high BMI and associated conditions can lead to high medical and societal costs and productivity losses. More than 70 percent of adults in the United States are considered to be overweight or obese, which in direct medical expenses alone costs nearly $210 billion per year. "Over half of the costs of being overweight can be from productivity losses, mainly due to missed work days but also productivity losses. This means that just focusing on medical costs misses a big part of the picture, though they're a consideration, too. Productivity losses affect businesses, which in turn affects the economy, which then affects everyone."
For the study, the researchers developed a computational simulation model to represent the U.S. adult population to show the lifetime costs and health effects for an individual with obesity, overweight and healthy weight statuses at ages 20 through 80 in increments of 10. The model used data from the Coronary Artery Disease Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) and Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) studies and included 15 mutually exclusive health statuses that represented every combination of three BMI categories (normal weight, overweight and obesity) and five chronic health stages. The model simulated the weight and health status of an adult as he or she ages year by year throughout his or her lifetime to track the individual medical costs and productivity losses of each person. The estimated direct medical costs to the insurer and health care facility, productivity losses and sick time were included.
The research team found that cost savings peak at age 50 with an average total savings of $36,278. After age 50, the largest cost savings occur when an individual with obesity moves to the normal weight category as opposed to the overweight category, emphasizing the importance of weight loss as people age. "Most previous models have taken into account one or a few health risks associated with obesity. Subsequently, the forecasted costs may be unrealistic. In our study, the model we developed takes into account a range of immediate health complications associated with body weight, like hypertension or diabetes, as well as all major long-term adverse health outcomes, including heart disease and some types of cancer, in forecasting the incremental health effects and costs to give a realistic calculation."