You’ll Be Stunned by the Projected Cost of Obesity

Photo (cc) by Tobyotter

The growing obesity problem in the United States is not only a personal and public health concern; it’s an expensive burden for Americans to shoulder.

A recent Brookings study found that if all 12.7 million obese children in the country remain obese as adults, the “societal costs over their lifetimes may exceed $1.1 trillion.” Yikes. That’s about $92,235 per person more than a person of normal weight, researchers said.

“The obesity epidemic is an extremely pressing issue for the United States, and by the way for many other countries around the world,” said Ross A. Hammond, director of the Center on Social Dynamics and Policy at Brookings. “And it’s also a problem that is challenging from a policy perspective because the causes of obesity are quite complex.”

The study links obesity to an increase in health care costs, as well as a decrease in productivity in the workplace and a bump in disability claims costs, Brookings said.

Research has shown that a third of American adults, which totals 78.6 million people, and 17 percent of children in the United States are now obese. The Fiscal Times said:

Without major government and private intervention and a dramatic change in unhealthy eating habits, one study says the adult obesity rate could reach 50 percent by 2030. That means more obesity-related health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension, arthritis and even cancer.

The study concluded:

There are substantial societal costs of high obesity rates in the United States, including productivity costs in the workplace and disability claims costs. Even if lifetime costs of obesity, such as health care, can be contained, the increase in the number of Americans with obesity foreshadows substantial societal costs. Our model indicates that increased costs of obesity is not offset by the relationship of obesity with higher mortality. Focusing on obesity-related mortality may obscure issues related to increased morbidity.

Obesity is defined by medical experts as having a BMI (or body mass index) of more than 30. (BMI is equal to an individual’s weight multiplied by 703 and then divided by twice the height in inches.) BMI in the 25.9-29 range is considered overweight. Find out your BMI in this chart published by the National Institutes of Health.

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