Another Recent Study Assesses the Financial Burden of Excess Fat Tissue

The personal cost of being overweight or obese is sizable, even when considering only financial matters, the greater expenditure on medical needs and the opportunity costs that accompany sickness and loss of capacity. Additional weight in the form of visceral fat tissue both shortens life expectancy and increases lifetime medical expense, this much is well established in the scientific literature. Summing those costs over the entire population produces some staggeringly large numbers. Those numbers can vary widely depending on the assumptions and what is included; those here are on the high end. Yet the cost of excess weight is just a tiny fraction of the cost of degenerative aging as a whole, and it largely arises because being overweight makes the process of aging incrementally worse and incrementally faster.

The impact of obesity and overweight on the U.S. economy has eclipsed $1.7 trillion, an amount equivalent to 9.3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to a new report on the role excess weight plays in the prevalence and cost of chronic diseases. The estimate includes $480.7 billion in direct health-care costs and $1.24 trillion in lost productivity, as documented in America's Obesity Crisis: The Health and Economic Impact of Excess Weight. The study draws on research that shows how overweight and obesity elevate the risk of diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoarthritis, and estimates the cost of medical treatment and lost productivity for each disease.

For example, the treatment cost for all type 2 diabetes cases - one of the most prevalent chronic diseases connected to excess weight - was $121 billion and indirect costs were $215 billion. On an individual basis, that comes to $7,109 in treatment costs per patient and $12,633 in productivity costs. America's Obesity Crisis assesses the role excess weight plays in the prevalence of 23 chronic diseases and the economic consequences that result. To mention a few, obesity and overweight are linked to 75 percent of osteoarthritis cases, 64 percent of type 2 diabetes cases, and 73 percent of kidney disease cases. "Despite the billions of dollars spent each year on public health programs and consumer weight-loss products, the situation isn't improving. A new approach is needed."


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