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Obese Child Incurs Extra $19,000 Lifetime Medical Costs

Finding is in comparison to a normal-weight child who maintains normal weight in adulthood

WEDNESDAY, April 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The incremental lifetime medical cost of an obese child compared to a normal-weight child who maintains normal weight throughout adulthood is roughly $19,000, according to a study published online April 7 in Pediatrics.

Eric Andrew Finkelstein, Ph.D., from the Duke Global Health Institute in Durham, N.C., and colleagues conducted a literature review to identify studies that calculated lifetime medical cost estimates for an obese child. All costs utilized 2012 dollars and were discounted to reflect costs from the perspective of a 10-year-old child today.

The researchers identified six studies published within the 15 years preceding May 2013. Compared to a 10-year-old normal-weight child, the incremental lifetime direct medical cost from the perspective of a 10-year-old obese child ranged from $12,660 to $19,630 when accounting for weight gain through adulthood among normal-weight children. The unadjusted range was $16,310 to $39,080.

"Additional research is needed to include estimates of indirect costs of childhood obesity," the authors writes.

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