Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Health care costs grow with body mass

Date:
January 27, 2014
Source:
Duke Medicine
Summary:
Researchers report that health care costs increase in parallel with body mass measurements, even beginning at a recommended healthy weight. Pharmacy and medical costs may even double for obese people compared with those at a healthy weight, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Duke Medicine report that health care costs increase in parallel with body mass measurements, even beginning at a recommended healthy weight. Pharmacy and medical costs may even double for obese people compared with those at a healthy weight, according to a recent study published in the journal Obesity.

The researchers found that costs associated with medical and drug claims rose gradually with each unit increase in body mass index (BMI). Notably, these increases began above a BMI of 19, which falls in the lower range of the healthy weight category.

"Our findings suggest that excess fat is detrimental at any level," said lead author Truls ุstbye, M.D., Ph.D., professor of community and family medicine at Duke and professor of health services and systems research at Duke-National University of Singapore.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, using death data from several large population studies, concluded that while higher degrees of obesity were associated with higher mortality rates, being overweight or even slightly obese was actually linked with lower mortality. Since these findings questioned the general belief that high body mass leads to poor health outcomes, ุstbye and his colleagues sought to better understand the rates of obesity-related disease, or morbidity, by measuring health care utilization and costs.

Using health insurance claims data for 17,703 Duke employees participating in annual health appraisals from 2001 to 2011, the researchers related costs of doctors' visits and use of prescription drugs to employees' BMIs.

BMI is a measurement of a person's weight adjusted for his or her height, and can be used to screen for possible weight-related health problems. A normal BMI, which suggests a healthy weight, is 19-24, while overweight is 25-29 and obese is 30 and above. For example, a 5-foot-6-inch person who weighs 117.5 pounds has a BMI of 19, while a person of the same height weighing 279 pounds has a BMI of 45. Underweight individuals (who reported a BMI less than 19) were excluded from this analysis, as very low weight may be a result of existing illness.

Measuring costs related to doctors' visits and prescriptions, the researchers observed that the prevalence of obesity-related diseases increased gradually across all body mass levels. In addition to diabetes and hypertension -- the two diseases most commonly associated with being overweight or obese -- the rates of nearly a dozen other disease categories also grew with increases in BMI. Cardiovascular disease was associated with the largest dollar increase per unit increase in BMI.

The average annual health care costs for a person with a BMI of 19 was found to be $2,368; this grew to $4,880 for a person with a BMI of 45 or greater. Women in the study had higher overall medical costs across all BMI categories, but men saw a sharper increase in medical costs the higher their BMIs rose.

The study did not find a change in the relationship between levels of obesity and health care costs from 2001 to 2011. In contrast to the recent evidence relating to mortality, which concluded that only more obese people were at a higher risk of death, the current findings suggest that the occurrence of obesity-related illnesses and related costs begin increasing at a healthy weight.

Given the growing health costs associated with excess weight, the researchers stressed the importance of implementing effective health and weight-loss programs.

"The fact that we see the combined costs of pharmacy and medical more than double for people with BMIs of 45 compared with those of 19 suggests that interventions on weight are warranted," said Marissa Stroo, a co-investigator on the study.

The researchers also noted that the workplace is a good setting for implementing weight loss programs, given that employers can target the more than 100 million Americans who spend most of their waking hours at work. The Affordable Care Act recognizes this advantage, and has created new incentives to promote employee wellness programs.

"Employers should be interested in these findings, because, directly or indirectly, they end up paying for a large portion of these health care costs," ุstbye said.

The researchers are currently working to evaluate the impact of employer-sponsored health management and weight loss programs on health care costs.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Truls ุstbye, Marissa Stroo, Eric L. Eisenstein, Bercedis Peterson, John Dement. Is overweight and class I obesity associated with increased health claims costs? Obesity, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/oby.20669

Cite This Page:

Duke Medicine. "Health care costs grow with body mass." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127100940.htm>.
Duke Medicine. (2014, January 27). Health care costs grow with body mass. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127100940.htm
Duke Medicine. "Health care costs grow with body mass." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127100940.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) — New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) — Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) — Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
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