America’s Obesity Epidemic costs $147 billion

americas obesity epidemic Americas Obesity Epidemic costs $147 billion

According to this study,

  • Americans spend $147 billion per year on “medical” obesity treatments,
  • This spending on obesity treatments eats up 9.1% of America’s total health care spending,
  • Annual medical costs due to obesity have doubled in less than a decade,
  • Between 1998 and 2006, the prevalence of American obesity swelled by 37%.
  • The results also showed that an obese person has $1,429 per year more medical costs, or about 42 percent more costs, than someone of normal weight.
  • Costs for an obese Medicare recipient are even greater.

Much of the costs to Medicare are a result of the added prescription drug benefit. The results reveal that Medicare prescription drug payments for obese individuals are roughly $600 more per year than drug payments for normal weight beneficiaries.

The researchers also found that 8.5 percent of Medicare expenditures, 11.8 percent of Medicaid expenditures, and 12.9 percent of private payer expenditures are attributable to obesity.

According to lead author Dr. Eric Finkelstein, “the medical costs attributable to obesity are almost entirely a result of costs generated from treating the diseases that obesity promotes“.

Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease….

“Obesity will continue to impose a significant burden on the health care system as long as the prevalence of obesity remains high.”

This study was presented earlier today at the “Weight of the Nation” conference, a three-day meeting of public health experts, policy leaders, and researchers being held in Washington, D.C.

The CDC will discuss the study findings along with new recommendations designed to prevent and reduce the impact obesity has upon communities at the “Weight of the Nation” conference, a three-day meeting of public health experts, policy leaders, and researchers being held today in Washington, D.C.

But, let’s not wait for the CDC discussion….

How can America reduce the $147 billion spent each year “treating the diseases that obesity promotes”?

  • More bariatric surgeries?
  • Modify the current taxes/subsidies applied to food production/distribution?
  • Mandatory P.E. in all schools?
  • Community fitness initiatives?
  • Massive PR campaign designed to shame the lazy & praise the physically fit
  • Tax breaks for Pharma research into obesity treatments
  • Mandatory military bootcamps
  • Amphetamines added to the water supply (sorry, Coca-Cola supply is more appropriate)

Any other suggestions welcome.

Also, please send me links to any other health/fitness/obesity blogs or websites that you really, really like.


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Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.


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  2. Ian

    November 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I am actually writing a paper for college right now and came across your article. Thanks for the $$$ data by the way!

    There were a few comments on the food industry. My paper is specifically on obesity and high fructose corn syrup. I have found that because of the cost savings for the industry is so high, that manufacturers are using HFCS in nearly EVERY food/drink product available. HFCS is on average 55% fructose, which takes more energy for the body to break down. Combine that with inadequite exercise, and you find obesity.

    Take a look at the labels of food found in the thinner countries and compare it to the US and UK. That may be a source as to why some of the other countries that have manufactured foods are remaining thin. I have found studies that had shown the increase in sugar calories since the inception of HFCS around 1970.

    Cut out the HFCS (soft drinks especially) and like Rachel mentioned, walk to and take public transportation and people can help slim out the fat.


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  4. Darryl D Levario

    March 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Very educational – always spread the word. Looking forward to an update. For too long now have I had the urge to begin my personal blog. Guess if I wait around any more I’ll never take action. I’ll make sure to include you in my Blogroll. Thanks again!!


    January 25, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Severe clinical obesity can be life threatening. Typical diet food in America:

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  7. Brit

    July 28, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I wish I knew–I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. :-/ I’ve been steady at a weight for a while now.

  8. Rachel McCormack

    July 28, 2009 at 5:41 am

    1. Increase the price of petrol and invest in public trasnport. People are more likely to have to walk to take it (they are not fat in Switzerland they take public trasnport)
    2. Education at school. Make food and cooking fresh foods a pleasure from an early age. Nations seem to get fatter the more processed food is available – look at Starbucks and the size of their coffees and sugar laden, fat laden things to drink. Look at Italy or Spain and the coffee they have. Who is fatter?
    3. At some point we are going to have to look at the food ‘industry’ and how we are manipulated (I am in the UK, I think the US is worse). It seems that fat nations like us have an enormous amount of ready made food in our supermarkets. Thin nations cook using fresh produce. The more these nations have processed food available the fatter they get.

  9. BMI Obesity

    July 28, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Obesity is such an easy thing to remedy. Education on living a healthy lifestyle will help many people but is not implemented.