Obesity Increases Costs Across Health Care Settings

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Median increases in mean total annual health care costs were 12 and 36 percent for overweight and obese individuals, investigators found.
Median increases in mean total annual health care costs were 12 and 36 percent for overweight and obese individuals, investigators found.

(HealthDay News) -- Excess weight is associated with increased costs across health care settings, with the highest percentage increases seen in costs for medications, according to research published online May 22 in Obesity Reviews.

Seamus Kent, from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reviewed studies using individual patient data to examine the correlations between body mass index and health care costs. They also compared how annual health care costs for overweight and obese individuals compared with those for healthy-weight individuals. Data were included from 34 studies.

The researchers found that the median increases in mean total annual health care costs were 12 and 36 percent for overweight and obese individuals, respectively, compared with individuals at healthy weight. The highest percentage increases in costs were for medications (18 and 68 percent for overweight and obese, respectively), inpatient care (12 and 34 percent, respectively), and ambulatory care (4 and 26 percent, respectively). Compared with men, women had higher percentage increases in costs associated with obesity.

"The substantial costs associated with excess weight in different health care settings emphasize the need for investment to tackle this major public health problem," the authors write.

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