Cost of Obesity Approaching $300 Billion a Year
Researchers call for insurance companies to offer incentives for healthy living
TUESDAY, Jan. 11, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- The total economic cost of overweight and obesity in the United States is $270 billion per year while the cost in Canada is about $30 billion a year, a new study shows.
The $300 billion total cost in the United States and Canada is the result of: increased need for medical care ($127 billion); loss of worker productivity due to higher rates of death ($49 billion); loss of productivity due to disability of active workers ($43 billion); and loss of productivity due to total disability ($72 billion), said the Society of Actuaries (SOA).
People are considered overweight if their body-mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9 and obese if their BMI is higher than 30.
When the SOA researchers separated the economic cost of overweight and obesity to the United States in 2009, they found that it was $72 billion for overweight and $198 billion for obesity.
The findings are based on a review of papers published primarily between January 1980 and June 2009.
"Overweight and obesity have been shown to increase the rate of several common adverse medical conditions, resulting in this extraordinary economic cost to society," study author Don Behan said in a SOA news release.
"We can't stand back and ignore the fact that overweight and obesity are drivers of cost increases and detrimental economic effects. It's time for actuaries, the employer community and the insurance industry to take action and help consumers make smart, healthy decisions," he added.
An SOA online survey of 1,000 adults found that 83 percent would be willing to follow a healthy lifestyle program if they received incentives from their health insurance plan.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about overweight and obesity.