Health-care costs for morbidly obese
adults are nearly twice those of people considered to be of normal
weight, says a study led by UC researchers.
The study found that in the year 2000
morbidly obese adults paid 81 percent more for medical care than
normal-weight adults, 65 percent more than overweight adults, and 47
percent more than obese adults.
The excess costs among morbidly obese
adults resulted from greater spending on visits to the doctor,
outpatient hospital care, inpatient care and prescription drugs, the
"The economic burden of morbid obesity
among U.S. adults is substantial," says David Arterburn, MD, assistant
professor of internal medicine and researcher at the Institute for the
Study of Health at UC's Academic Health Center.
The study, led by Dr. Arterburn, appears in the March 2005 issue of the International Journal of Obesity.
In 2000, nearly 5 million U.S. adults
were considered morbidly obese, bringing health-care spending
associated with excess body weight to more than $11 billion that year.
Morbid obesity, defined as being 100
pounds or more over ideal body weight or having a body mass index (BMI)
of 40 or higher, is rising twice as fast as obesity (BMI greater than
30) in the United States. Between 1990 and 2000, the prevalence of
morbid obesity increased from 0.78 percent to 2.2 percent, representing
a total of over 4.8 million morbidly obese U.S. adults in the year 2000.
The authors found that $56 billion in
U.S. heath-care expenditures in 2000 was linked to excess body
weight--a 12 percent increase from 1998.
Morbid obesity is associated with a
substantially increased risk of sickness and death from chronic health
conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and
The authors say further research is
needed into specific interventions that will reduce the incidence and
prevalence of morbid obesity and improve the health and economic
outcomes of morbidly obese people.
Co-authors include Matthew Maciejewski,
PhD, of the University of Washington, and Joel Tsevat, MD, professor of
internal medicine and researcher at UC's Institute for the Study of