Obesity care costs twice as fat

2010-10-16 09:53

Nearly 17% of US medical costs can be blamed on obesity, according to new research that suggests the nation’s weight problem may be having close to twice the impact on medical spending as previously estimated.

One expert acknowledged that past estimates likely underestimated the costs and said the new study – which places obesity-related medical costs at about $168 billion (about R1.2 trillion) – probably is closer to the truth.

“I think these are the most recent and perhaps statistically sound estimates that have come out to date,” says Kenneth Thorpe, a health policy researcher at Emory University who has focused on the cost of health care.

The new research was done by John Cawley of Cornell University and Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh University. It was released this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organisation.

The new study looks at the data base’s information on nearly 24 000 non-elderly adult patients from the years 2000 through 2005.

Why did Cawley and Meyerhoefer come up with larger estimates?

  • Past studies have relied just on self-reported weight, and many people understate their actual weight. The new research made statistical adjustments to come up with what are believed to be truer figures.

  • The authors tried to better establish that excess weight was a cause for the medical costs. Previous studies stopped short of saying that obesity caused the costs because there was too great a chance that other factors could be responsible.


The two researchers at first were a bit surprised by how large their estimates were, but obesity is clearly a major burden on society, says Cawley, an associate professor of policy analysis and management.

“It’s hard to find conditions that aren’t worsened or made more expensive by obesity,” he says.

Thorpe says the new estimates highlight a need to invest more in obesity-fighting programmes.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.