20.6% of U.S. Health Care Costs Are Caused by Obesity
America, we’ve told you this before. You’ve put on a few these past few decades. And beside those new pairs of jeans you had to buy, we now know just how much your ever-expanding waist is costing you in yet another way: Doctor’s bills.
According to a newly peer-reviewed study out of Cornell University, 20.6 percent of the health care costs in the U.S. is caused by obesity. That turns out to be $190.2 billion, in 2005 dollars — or to put in more understandable terms for Americans, about 62 billion Big Macs that year. Though the link between fat and medical bills is pretty well established, what with obesity being an underlying factor for diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers, this latest estimate for the total cost of obesity in the U.S. is 2.2 times higher then the previous ones.
Those costs, of course, aren’t distributed evenly among taxpayers. Health care costs are $2,741 higher for the obese than for the non-obese. Nevertheless, obesity inevitably places a financial burden on government-funded medical programs. So suddenly, Michelle Obama’s small but persistent crusade to get kids to eat their fruits and vegetables seems less mockable.
- The medical care costs of obesity: An instrumental variables approach, John Cawley and Chad Meyerhoefer, Journal of Health Economics