Report: Chronic Diseases Due to Obesity Cost $1.72 T 

As the prevalence of obesity continues to rise nationwide, so does the price tag that comes with it. 

Chronic diseases related to the risk factors of overweight and obesity cost the United States $1.72 trillion, according to a report from the Milken Institute—equivalent to 9.3% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). 

The total accounts for $480.7 billion in direct healthcare costs for chronic diseases driven by overweight and obesity as risk factors, as well as $1.24 trillion in indirect lost economic productivity costs. 

In 1962, 13.4% of adults were obese, according to the researchers. In 2016, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that rose to 39.8%, totaling 180.5 million people—60.7% of the population aged two years and older. 

When broken down by condition, the top five largest driving cost factors were hypertension ($461,553 million in direct and indirect costs), type 2 diabetes ($335,208 million), osteoarthritis ($301,783 million), chronic back pain ($255,768 million), and Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia ($106,178 million). 

Obesity is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 kg/m2 or greater. Extreme obesity is determined by a BMI of 40.0 kg/m2 or greater. 

Researchers reported the relative risk (RR) for overweight and obese individuals to develop certain chronic diseases using the ratio of the percentage of individuals exposed to a risk who develop a disease to the percentage of individuals who are not exposed to the risk who develop that disease. End stage renal disease had the strongest association; obese individuals have an RR of 3.57. 

The obesity epidemic stems from multiple sources, including food production, distribution, and marketing; commuting patterns; and sedentary lifestyles, the authors note, so targeting the problem will require a multi-faceted approach. They concluded, “Rather, a societal consensus in favor of healthful eating and exercise is required. Individuals at risk for obesity, employers, health care providers, insurers, governments, and communities must all participate to find solutions to this societal challenge.” 

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Source: Milken Institute