Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Obesity accounts for 21 percent of U.S. health care costs, study finds

Date:
April 9, 2012
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Obesity now accounts for almost 21 percent of U.S. health care costs – more than twice the previous estimates, reports a new study. The research, which is the first to show the causal effect of obesity on medical care costs, uses new methods and makes a stronger case for government intervention to prevent obesity.

Obesity now accounts for almost 21 percent of U.S. health care costs -- more than twice the previous estimates, reports a new Cornell University study.

The research, which is the first to show the causal effect of obesity on medical care costs, uses new methods and makes a stronger case for government intervention to prevent obesity, the authors say in the January issue of the Journal of Health Economics.

The study reports that an obese person incurs medical costs that are $2,741 higher (in 2005 dollars) than if they were not obese. Nationwide, that translates into $190.2 billion per year, or 20.6 percent of national health expenditures. Previous estimates had pegged the cost of obesity at $85.7 billion, or 9.1 percent of national health expenditures.

"Historically we've been underestimating the benefit of preventing and reducing obesity," said lead author John Cawley, Cornell professor of policy analysis and management and of economics. "Obesity raises the risk of cancer, stroke, heart attack and diabetes. For any type of surgery, there are complications with anesthesia, with healing [for the obese]. … Obesity raises the costs of treating almost any medical condition. It adds up very quickly."

The new study, conducted with Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh University, estimates the effect of obesity on medical expenses by treating the heritable component of weight as a natural experiment. Previous research simply reported the difference between the medical expenses of heavier and lighter people, which is a misleading estimate of the causal effect because obese and non-obese individuals differ in so many ways. Cawley explains, "For example, I could have injured my back at work, and that may have led me to gain weight. The injury could have led to a lot of health care costs that are due to my back, not my obesity."

The research provides hard evidence for policymakers to use in cost-effectiveness analysis when deciding whether and how much to fund obesity prevention programs, Cawley said. Since previous studies have underestimated the medical costs of obesity, the economic rationale for governments to intervene and reduce obesity has been underappreciated.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John Cawley, Chad Meyerhoefer. The medical care costs of obesity: An instrumental variables approach. Journal of Health Economics, 2012; 31 (1): 219 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.10.003

Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Obesity accounts for 21 percent of U.S. health care costs, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120409103247.htm>.
Cornell University. (2012, April 9). Obesity accounts for 21 percent of U.S. health care costs, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120409103247.htm
Cornell University. "Obesity accounts for 21 percent of U.S. health care costs, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120409103247.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins