As the prevalence of overweight and obesity has
increased in the United States, so have related health care costsóboth direct
and indirect. Direct health care costs refer to preventive, diagnostic, and
treatment services such as physician visits, medications, and hospital and
nursing home care. Indirect costs are the value of wages lost by people unable
to work because of illness or disability, as well as the value of future
earnings lost by premature death.
of the statistics presented here represent the economic cost of overweight and
obesity in the United States in 1995, updated to 2001 dollars. Unless
otherwise noted, these statistics are adapted from Wolf and Colditz, who
based their data on existing epidemiological studies that defined overweight and
obesity as a BMI > 29. Because the prevalence of overweight and obesity
has increased since 1995, the costs today are higher than the figures given
Q: What is the cost of overweight and
A: Total Cost: $117 billion
Direct Cost: $61 billion*
Indirect Cost: $56 billion
*A recent study estimated annual
medical spending due to overweight and obesity (BMI >25) to be as much as
$92.6 billion in 2002 dollarsó9.1 percent of U.S. health expenditures.
Q: What is the cost of lost productivity
related to overweight and obesity?
A: The cost of lost
productivity related to obesity among Americans age 17 to 64 is $3.9 billion.
This value considers the following annual numbers (for 1994):
Workdays lost: $39.3 million
Physician office visits: $62.7 million
Restricted-activity days: $239 million
Bed-days: $89.5 million