Obesity is a deadly disease that is on the rise worldwide. In the United States, four out of ten adults are considered obese.1 Unfortunately, obesity comes with a hefty price tag for individuals as well as a costly expense for the nation. To put it in perspective,
- There are over $172.7 billion in medical bills annually.2
- The average overweight and obese adult is likely to spend between $9,000 to $21,000 more per year than a healthy-weight adult.
- Obese adults spend $7,337 on medical costs annually compared to people with a healthy weight.3
Considering the various related costs, obesity is a drain on your lifespan and wallet.
How Much is Obesity Costing Americans?
There are three different degrees of financial costs rising from obesity: direct costs, indirect costs, and personal costs.
1. Direct costs
Direct costs of obesity are tied to how society suffers through inefficiently allocating or distributing resources. Most evident is the economic strain associated with diagnosing and treating obesity-related diseases and obesity treatment itself. Healthcare resource utilization (HRU) costs include visits to general practitioners, medical specialists, hospital admissions and longer stays, and medication prescribed. Although there are major costs connected with being overweight, obesity alone is frequently calculated.
2. Indirect or societal costs
The economic consequence of obesity extends far beyond increased healthcare consumption. As the body mass index increases, the indirect cost of reduced productivity has a more substantial economic burden, accounting for $1.24 trillion in work loss annually.
Societal or indirect costs are occupation-specific nuances, such as those related to absences, sick time off, medical leaves, workmen’s compensation, presenteeism (productivity loss), higher-priced disability benefits, and even early mortality. Weight and other health-related conditions like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and high cholesterol hinder many from working and maintaining full-time employment.
3. Personal cost
Over time, obese adults generally spend more money than healthy adults. The out-of-pocket expense is significantly higher in areas like healthcare and medical, fast food and dining, clothing, fad diets, weight loss products, life insurance, and health insurance.
- Medical costs: Higher healthcare expenditures are universally correlated to excess weight. Illnesses and disabilities triggered by obesity carry a heavier financial burden whether or not the individual is covered by medical insurance. For example, those living with diabetes spend, on average $9,601 more per year than those without the disease. This single obesity-related comorbidity, paired with others, can add substantial strain on the budget.
- Out-of-pocket healthcare: Since high BMI (body mass index) levels are associated with greater medical expenses (such as doctor visits, diagnostic tests, and hospital stays), there are more out-of-pocket expenses. The number of hospital visits and doctor appointments is heightened in comparison to healthy individuals. Obese people requested over 11 million physician visits in a single year.
- Grocery and dining costs: With grocery and restaurant prices inflated, eating more than the recommended daily calorie intake is another financial strain. Food options are another challenge, as unhealthy and fast foods are typically cheaper and more readily available.
- Weight loss diet programs: The weight loss industry is thriving, with an estimated annual spending of $33 billion in the United States. With obesity rates rising and over 60% of the population overweight, the demand for diet programs is at an all-time high.
“I spent about $1,000 annually on diets that never worked for me” – MBC past bariatric surgery patient Karlee
Save money by losing weight
Everyone knows how to lose weight. Exercising more, eating smaller portions, and avoiding sugary foods/drinks are just a few weight-reducing musts. However, those steps alone are not enough. For most people, it will take a combination of these three tactics and other tools to help overcome obesity.
- Lifestyle changes
- Physical exercise
- Eating healthier
- Bariatric surgery
- Weight management programs
That’s where bariatric surgery comes in. A recent study found that gastric sleeve and gastric bypass procedures can dramatically reduce weight and improve obesity-related health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Weight loss surgery has helped millions of patients with severe obesity get healthier, live longer, and get their lives back on track. Many think that weight loss surgery is only for people with a BMI over 40. However, it can also be used to treat people with BMIs of 30 and above.
The cost of obesity vs. bariatric surgery
Being obese can cost upwards of $21,000 for medical treatments, dieting, and medicine. In Mexico, a weight loss procedure is a one-time payment of $4,395.
Getting rid of excess body fat has a profound impact on decreasing the spending on direct or indirect costs relating to obesity.
Bariatric surgery resets your metabolic system. Surgery helps patients eat less food and perform more physical activities, allowing them to restart their careers. It can reduce overall mortality by 40%, cancer mortality by 52%, and even COVID-19 hospitalization by 49%, and improve the chances that type 2 diabetes will go into remission.
By drastically thinning out over the first 18 months after surgery, many patients no longer need obesity-related medications and are cured of health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
1. State of Obesity 2022: Better Policies for a Healthier American
2. Association of body mass index with health care expenditures in the United States by age and sex
3. Adult Obesity Facts by CDC
4. Economic Costs of Obesity