Economic impact of excess weight now exceeds $1.7 trillion

The impact of obesity and overweight on the U.S. economy has eclipsed $1.7 trillion, an amount equivalent to 9.3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to a new Milken Institute report on the role excess weight plays in the prevalence and cost of chronic diseases. The estimate includes $480.7 billion in direct health-care costs and $1.24 trillion in lost productivity, as documented in America's Obesity Crisis: The Health and Economic Impact of Excess Weight. The study draws on research that shows how overweight and obesity elevate the risk of diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoarthritis, and estimates the cost of medical treatment and lost productivity for each disease.

For example, the treatment cost for all type 2 diabetes cases - one of the most prevalent chronic diseases connected to excess weight - was $1.21 billion and indirect costs were $215 billion. On an individual basis, that comes to $7,109 in treatment costs per patient and $12,633 in productivity costs.

America's Obesity Crisis assesses the role excess weight plays in the prevalence of 23 chronic diseases and the economic consequences that result. To mention a few, obesity and overweight are linked to:

  • 75 percent of osteoarthritis cases
  • 64 percent of Type 2 diabetes cases
  • 73 percent of kidney disease cases

The findings suggest that more effective weight-control strategies could reduce both the health and economic burdens of chronic diseases, according to co-author Hugh Waters, director of health economics research at the Milken Institute.

"Despite the billions of dollars spent each year on public health programs and consumer weight-loss products, the situation isn't improving," Waters said. "A new approach is needed."

The impact of obesity on chronic disease is not limited to the stress that added weight places on joints and the cardiovascular system. For example, research indicates that hormones secreted by fat cells may trigger inflammation and increase insulin resistance. These reactions can, in turn, contribute to greater risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans were obese and 33 percent were overweight but not obese in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers have climbed steadily since 1962, when 13 percent of the population were obese and 32 percent were overweight.

Direct medical costs include payments made by individuals, families, employers, and insurance companies to treat the diseases in question. Indirect costs include the economic impact of work absences, lost wages, and reduced productivity of patients and caregivers.

The estimates in America's Obesity Crisis are based on an analysis of data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Center for Health Statistics, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report relies on the World Health Organization's definition of overweight as a body mass index of 25 to 29.9 and obesity as a BMI of 30 or higher.

Most Popular Now

Pfizer and BioNTech complete submission to Europea…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) today announced they have completed a submission to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for an Omicron-adapted biva...

Lilly will supply an additional 150,000 doses of b…

Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) announced a modified purchase agreement with the U.S. government to supply an additional 150,000 doses of bebtelovimab for approximately...

Bayer to sell men's health product Nebido™ to Grün…

Bayer and Grünenthal have entered into a definitive agreement regarding the sale of Bayer's men's health product Nebido™ (testosterone undecanoate), for a purchase price ...

AstraZeneca to acquire TeneoTwo and its clinical-s…

AstraZeneca announced an agreement to acquire TeneoTwo, Inc. (TeneoTwo)i, including its Phase I clinical-stage CD19/CD3 T-cell engager, TNB-486, currently under evaluatio...

Demonstration of a potent, universal coronavirus m…

The SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 has killed 6.3 million people worldwide since 2019, painfully highlighting the vulnerability of humanity to novel coronaviruses. Re...

The fourth COVID-19 vaccine reduces the risk of de…

A new study by Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in collaboration with the Israeli Ministry of Health, has found that the fourth COVID-19 vaccin...

Vaccine protection against COVID-19 short-lived, b…

Since COVID-19 vaccines first became available to protect against infection and severe illness, there has been much uncertainty about how long the protection lasts, and w...

Research shows investigational drug fosters nerve …

Scientists from the University of Birmingham have shown that a brain-penetrating candidate drug currently in development as a cancer therapy can foster regeneration of da...

NIH launches clinical trial of mRNA Nipah virus va…

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has launched an early-stage clinical trial evaluating an inv...

Anti-inflammatory compound shows potential in trea…

An anti-inflammatory compound may have the potential to treat systemic inflammation and brain injury in patients with severe COVID-19 and significantly reduce their chanc...

Vaccine-induced immune response to omicron wanes s…

Although COVID-19 booster vaccinations in adults elicit high levels of neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, antibody levels decrease substan...

SARS-CoV-2 hijacks nanotubes between neurons to in…

COVID-19 often leads to neurological symptoms, such as a loss of taste or smell, or cognitive impairments (including memory loss and concentration difficulties), both dur...