The Cost of Obesity

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The Cost of Obesity

By Alisa Bashaw

Obesity is a relatively new issue. It didn’t become a problem until the 20th century, when the numbers started to jump by leaps and bounds. In fact, in just 33 years the number of obese people more than doubled from 857 million in 1980 to an estimated 2.1 billion in 2013.

Time and time again people say that Americans are “fat and lazy”. In 1962, 45% of adults were already overweight and 13% of adults were obese. In 2007, 33% of men and 36% of women were obese and rates among African American women were as high as 50%. However, more than half of the 671 million obese people in the world live in 10 countries. Out of those 10 countries the United States is number 1

  1. United States
  2. China
  3. India
  4. Russia
  5. Brazil
  6. Mexico
  7. Egypt
  8. Germany
  9. Pakistan
  10. Indonesia

So, just how bad has it gotten in the United States? 31.7% of all men, 33.9% and 25.8% of all children in the United States are obese. Over $147 billion dollars are spent annually to treat obesity. However, America is making strides. In fact, starting in the ‘00s the overall rate of obesity started to plateau, unfortunately though severe obesity and obesity in children preceded to rise. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in January 2010 that showed the obesity rate for American women had remained constant over the previous decade. Only a small increase was shown among men and children.

While we have stabilized our growth of obesity it is still a leading health issue that results in over 300,000 deaths a year. The health risks of obesity are well known and documented but the costs are said to be dramatically greater than what was estimated only a few years ago.

Here are some costs and examples of risen estimates,

  • $190 billion is now estimated to be spent in annual medical costs due to obesity. This is double earlier estimates. Obesity-related conditions account for an estimated 8.5% of Medicare spending, 11.8% of Medicaid spending and 12.9% of private-payer spending.
  • Researchers fear that if obesity remains unchecked that by 2030 obesity-related medical costs alone could rise by $48 to $66 billion a year.
  • For employees of the Mayo clinic an overweight person pays $1850 more per year for medical costs than someone of healthy weight. A morbidly obese with a BMI of 35 to 40 will pay $3086 more per year and for a person with a BMI over 40 will pay $5,530. In comparison, if you are a smoker your medical costs would be $1,274 more a year compared to a nonsmoker.
  • It is estimated that it costs an additional $5 billion a year in jet fuel costs to fly heavier Americans, compared to weights in 1960.
  • Per year $4 billion extra dollars is spent on gasoline for vehicles that carry heavier passengers.

Over the course of a person’s lifetime the cost of obesity were similar to those of a person who smokes. Treating five of the most common obesity-related conditions in a middle-aged man (stroke, coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol) cost $9,000 to $17,000 more dollars than normal-weight adults.

Let’s speak honestly about obesity.

If you do a search online about the added health costs of smoking you will find numerous articles supporting that fact. If you do a similar search about the added health costs of being obese, you will find articles disputing the added health costs of the obese to the American public.

Obesity is a pain. Literally.

If you want to know what it feels like to carry around extra weight add on a 50 pound weight vest and walk around with it all day. Being overweight takes a toll on your body and mind. When someone is overweight their mental health is affected also. They feel as if they are stuck and unable to move beyond the health and weight issues. Adequate research has not been done on the amount of mental health affected by obesity.

If you are trying to stop using tobacco you can quit and not buy any more. You can stay away from other users and with more states making public places smoke free you can stay away from smoking almost completely.

If you are trying to quit drinking alcohol you can stop buying alcohol, stay away from others drinking and not go into establishments serving alcohol.

I am not trying to minimize any addictions, but unfortunately food is a necessity to live. So no matter what you do you are tempted all day, every day, no matter what. It is a constant battle.

Obesity is a killer. Until you have lived through the death of close to you due to obesity you cannot truly appreciate the gravity of the situation. At the end of the day, no burger is worth not being there to see your children grow up or being able to fully enjoy your life like you would like because you are just too tired to get up and go.



Obesity costs the global economy as much as war and terrorism, totalling $2TRILLION each year

Fast Facts: Economic Costs of Obesity  –

Direct and Indirect Costs of Obesity –

Cost of obesity ‘greater than war and terrorism’ –

Obesity Costs Will Grow to $344 Billion by 2018 –

Obesity Epidemic Costs World $2 Trillion a Year –

Obesity is a greater burden on the UK’s economy than armed violence –


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