Obesity a major factor in healthcare costs

Consumers can boost their quality of life and potentially reduce their health insurance costs by focusing more on physical fitness, according to a new study that finds obesity-related conditions now account for 9.1 percent of all medical spending.

Consumers can boost their quality of life and potentially reduce their health insurance costs by focusing more on physical fitness, according to a new study that finds obesity-related conditions now account for 9.1 percent of all medical spending.

The new study from RTI International reports that obesity may cost the U.S. $147 billion each year. Obese patients are said to incur about $1,429 each year in medical costs, or about 42 percent more than people with a normal weight. Medicare patients are said to have even higher costs because of the prescription drug benefit they receive.

The study said that obesity increased by 37 percent between 1998 and 2006, and that in 1998, obesity-related expenditures only accounted for 6.5 percent of all medical spending.

Separately, an Associated Press report quoted Jeff Levi of the Trust for America's Health as saying that "healthcare costs are dramatically higher for people who are obese and it doesn't have to be that way."

Maintaining one's health and physical fitness could be especially important to those in the market for private health insurance policies, since obesity is one of the main risk factors in pre-existing conditions like diabetes, which can result in higher premiums.

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Posted: July 27, 2009

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