Obesity Carries Extra Health-Care Costs

Overweight men have bigger drug bills, study finds

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SUNDAY, Nov. 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Obese and overweight men spend much more on prescription drugs than men with normal weight, says a Mayo Clinic study.

Researchers studied 328 male executives, average age 47, who were sent by their companies to have physical examinations done at the Mayo Clinic's Executive Physical program.

The study found that obese men spent an average of $80.31 per month on drugs, overweight men spent an average of $39.27 per month, and normal-weight men spent an average of $22.84 per month. The amount spent by obese men was 3.5 times that of normal-weight men.

"These are what we call 'real and immediate costs.' These are not the costs associated with an operation or serious event like a heart attack that might happen at some time in the future. Rather, this is what the men, or their employers, spend month after month on their prescription drugs," study author Thomas G. Allison, a consultant in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease, said in a prepared statement.

The study was presented Nov. 7 at the American Heart Association's scientific sessions in New Orleans.

Allison and his colleagues were surprised by the number of health problems they identified in the study subjects who were overweight or obese.

"We did not expect to see such significant health problems so strongly associated with weight, including degenerative joint disease, depression, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and more," Allison said.

The study found that 15 percent of the executives were normal weight, 52 percent were overweight and 32 percent were obese.

"Previous studies looking at the cost of obesity might be underestimating the toll. The men in this study were in a health program that exceeds the type of physical examination that a normal healthcare program would offer," Allison said.

Companies should take note of the added drug costs associated with being overweight or obese and introduce workplace programs to reduce weight, Allison suggested.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about the health risks of being overweight.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov, 7, 2004

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