Past Articles

Super-sized Costs

In the last 50 years the incidence of obesity in American has skyrocketed from 13% to an estimated 34% of the U.S. population. In the same time period, the incidence of extreme or “morbid” obesity has jumped from 0.9% to 6%. While these findings are common knowledge, the costs associated with the epidemic of obesity are eye-opening. Recent Mayo Clinic studies indicate that obesity racks up over $190 billion in annual medical costs - an average of $1,850 more per year for an obese person than a person of healthy weight. The morbidly obese’s average yearly cost was estimated as high as $3,086 per year. Shockingly, the average health costs of the obese were greater than the costs incurred by smoking. Smokers health care costs were generally $1,274 a year greater than non-smokers because of increased mortality, while individuals with a body-mass index (BMI) above 40 were estimated at $5,530 annually. The costs of obesity outside of health care were greater as well. The study noted a $5 billion annual increase in jet fuel over the 1960’s cost to fly heavier passengers and a $4 billion annual increase in gasoline costs for cars transporting the obese.

Source: Reuters. April 30, 2012.