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Research Paper on healthcare cost of obesity

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Research Paper on healthcare cost of obesity
Research Draft
Obesity is increasingly prevalent in the United States and in much of the developed world.
Obesity is a grave public health threat as it is associated with a variety of morbidities and reduced
longevity. Specifically, it is linked to chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia,
high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. According to the latest numbers from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an astonishing 68 percent of American adults
are overweight (meaning they have a body mass index, or BMI, of 25 or more) or obese. As a
result, obesity constitutes an important threat to national and global public health in terms of
prevalence, incidence and economic burden. In 2014, more than 2.1 billion people, nearly 30% of
the global population, were overweight or obese and 5% of the deaths worldwide were
attributable to obesity .
In addition to its serious health consequences, obesity has real economic costs that affect
all of us. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illnesses are a staggering
$190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States. Thereby imposing
a large economic burden not only on the individual, but on families and the nation as a whole .
1 Dobbs R., Sawers C., Thompson F., Manyika J., Woetzel J.R., Child P., McKenna S., Spatharou A.
Overcoming Obesity: An Initial Economic Analysis. McKinsey Global Institute; Jakarta, Indonesia: 2014.
Since being obese is an independent risk factor for a variety of chronic diseases, it is consequently
a potential source of avoidable excess health care expenditures. This paper will examine (thesis)
Obesity is a condition in which fat accumulates in the body to a point where it is a risk
factor or marker for a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases
(CVDs) and cancer, and has adverse effects on overall health. This condition is one of the biggest
drivers of preventable chronic diseases and healthcare costs in the United States. Currently,
estimates for these costs range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year . In addition, 3
obesity is associated with job absenteeism, which is when an employee is either intentionally or
habitually absent from work. Thereby, costing approximately $4.3 billion annually and with lower
productivity while at work, costing employers $506 per obese worker per year . As a person’s 4
BMI increases, so do the number of sick days, medical claims and healthcare costs. For instance,
obese adults spend 42 percent more on direct healthcare costs than adults who are a healthy
weight . Furthermore, per capita healthcare costs for severely or morbidly obese adults (BMI >40) 5
are 81 percent higher than for healthy weight adults . Not to mention, moderately obese 6
individuals, meaning they have a BMI between 30 and 35, are more than twice as likely as
healthy weight individuals to be prescribed prescription pharmaceuticals to manage medical
conditions. Lastly, a 2008 study by the Urban Institute, The New York Academy of Medicine and
TFAH found that an investment of $10 per person in proven community-based programs to
3 Cawley J and Meyerhoefer C. The Medical Care Costs of Obesity: An Instrumental Variables Approach. Journal
of Health Economics, 31(1): 219-230, 2012; And Finkelstein, Trogdon, Cohen, et al. Annual Medical Spending
Attributable to Obesity. Health Affairs, 2009.
4 Gates D, Succop P, Brehm B, et al. Obesity and presenteeism: The impact of body mass index on workplace
productivity. J Occ Envir Med, 50(1):39-45, 2008.
5 Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual Medical Spending Attributable to Obesity: Payer-and
Service-Specific Estimates. Health Af airs, 28(5): w822-831, 2009.
6 Arterburn DE, Maciejewski ML, Tsevat J. Impact of morbid obesity on medical expenditures in adults. Int J Obes,
29(3): 334-339, 2005.
increase physical activity, improve nutrition and prevent smoking and other tobacco use could
save the country more than $16 billion annually within five years. That’s a return of $5.60 for
every $1 invested.9 Out of the $16 billion, Medicare could save more than $5 billion and
Medicaid could save more than $1.9 billion. Also, expanding the use of prevention programs
would better inform the most effective, strategic public and private investments that yield the
strongest results.

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