Economic Costs of Obesity

In addition to its serious health consequences, obesity has real economic costs that affect all of us. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States.1  Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs.  Obesity-related medical costs in general are expected to rise significantly, especially because today’s obese children are likely to become tomorrow’s obese adults.2,3  If obesity rates were to remain at 2010 levels, the projected savings for  medical expenditures would be $549.5 billion over the next two decades.4

The direct and additional hidden costs of obesity are stifling businesses and organizations that stimulate jobs and growth in U.S. cities. In the 10 cities with the highest obesity rates, the direct costs connected with obesity and obesity-related diseases are roughly $50 million per 100,000 residents.  If these 10 cities cut their obesity rates down to the national average, the combined savings to their communities would be $500 million in health care costs each year.5

In addition to growing health care costs attributed to obesity, the nation will incur higher costs for disability and unemployment benefits.  Businesses are suffering due to obesity-related job absenteeism ($4.3 billion annually).  These costs also will continue to rise.6