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 22, 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 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
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