Obesity and Medical Costs

Book Section

This chapter summarizes the literature on the relationship between obesity and medical spending, including a discussion of both per capita and aggregate annual and lifetime medical costs attributable to obesity, and external costs funded by public sector health plans. A description on the implications of these findings for setting health policy is also given. The lifetime cost estimates are consistently positive, revealing that successful obesity-prevention efforts have the potential to be both health improving and cost saving over time. Obesity does impose significant health costs on publicly funded health plans, which many have deemed a financial externality. It is worth noting that if the high total or external costs of obesity are the underlying justification for publicly funded obesity interventions, then, regardless of how effective an intervention is at reducing weight, unless it is costsaving, it ultimately raises costs even more.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Finkelstein, E; Yang, HK

Published Date

  • September 18, 2012

Book Title

  • The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780199736362

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199736362.013.0029

Citation Source

  • Scopus