January 23, 2004

Obesity cost taxpayers $39B in 2003

Obesity cost taxpayers $39B in 2003
By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY
Obese Americans those who are 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight cost the country about $75 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2003, and taxpayers paid for about half of that, a study revealed Wednesday.

Almost 65% of Americans weigh too much. Extra weight increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, several types of cancer and other diseases.

Economists with RTI International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared state annual medical costs for obese people with those for adults at healthy weights.

They found that the public paid about $39 billion or about $175 per taxpayer through Medicare and Medicaid programs for obesity-linked illnesses. The study, to be published Friday in Obesity Research, gives a state-by-state breakdown of weight-related costs.

The same researchers released a report in May that showed that the total annual medical bill for people who are either obese or overweight, weighing just a few to 30 pounds over an ideal weight, is as much as $93 billion. Their analyses include direct medical costs related to extra weight but not indirect costs such as time off work.

"If obesity goes up, these costs are going to continue to go up," says lead author Eric Finkelstein, a health economist for RTI International.

Posted by mkreig at January 23, 2004 07:10 AM