Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Study: Obesity accounts for 9.1% of medical spending

South Florida Business Journal

The price of that burger and fries is not only impacting Americans’ waistlines, but also is taking a huge toll on health care spending.

In fact, spending on conditions associated with obesity, such as diabetes, has doubled in the last decade, as obesity rates grew 37 percent between 1998 and 2006, according to a study published Monday.

Obesity now accounts for 9.1 percent of all medical spending, up from 6.5 percent in 1998.

The report found that per-capita medical spending for obese people was 42 percent – or $1,429 – higher per year than for someone of normal weight.

Spending on prescription drugs was the largest cost driver. Costs on prescription drugs for an obese Medicare beneficiary was $600 more per year than for prescriptions used by a normal-weight beneficiary, according to the study.

“The medical costs attributable to obesity are almost entirely a result of costs generated from treating the diseases that obesity promotes,” said the study’s lead author, Eric Finkelstein, director of the North Carolina-based RTI’s Public Health Economics Program, in a news release.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is discussing the study’s findings, along with new recommendations designed to prevent and reduce the impact obesity has upon communities at the “Weight of the Nation” conference, a three-day meeting of public health experts, policy leaders, and researchers being held this week in Washington, D.C.

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