The Department of Health Policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Policy recently released a research report entitled “A Heavy Burden: The Individual Costs of Being Overweight and Obese in the United States.” The report, which tallied the annual, incremental costs of overweight and obesity from the individual perspective, found that the annual overall costs of being obese are $4,879 for an obese woman and $2,646 for an obese man. This includes medical costs, lost wages, higher work-related costs, and higher costs associated with the purchase of personal goods. For overweight women and men, the incremental annual costs are $524 and $432 respectively.
The report found that the main cost driver for those who are overweight are direct medical costs - health care costs for an overweight person are $346 higher per year than the health care costs for a normal-weight person. However, lost wages is the main cost driver for obese women.
Today, two out of three Americans are obese or overweight. If the current trajectory continues, one in two adults will be obese by 2030.
Viewed in this light, participating in a weight loss program can have significant health and financial benefits. When considering the costs of a weight loss program – such as bariatric surgery or a medically-supervised diet – factor in the impact of these programs in reducing your weight as well as the direct costs of being overweight.