Economic burden of excess weight among older adults in Singapore: a cross-sectional study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


To estimate the incremental per capita and aggregate direct and indirect costs of excess weight among older adults (aged 40-80) in Singapore.


Secondary data analysis of an existing cross-sectional survey SETTING: Residential districts in South-West Singapore PARTICIPANTS: 5848 older adults (aged 40-80) from Singapore's three dominant ethnic groups PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: We used regression models to estimate per capita medical expenditures and absenteeism costs attributable to overweight and obesity based on WHO's body-mass index (BMI) classification. Per capita estimates were multiplied by prevalence to obtain aggregate costs.


The sample included 2467 Chinese, 2128 Indians and 1253 Malays. Indians and Malays are three to four times more likely to be obese (BMI≥30 kg/m2 ) than Chinese. Among Chinese, compared with those who are normal weight, individuals who are overweight missed one additional workday per year more (p<0.05). Individuals in the obese category had S$720 per year greater medical expenditures (p<0.05) but missed workdays were not statistically different from those in the normal weight category. Among Indians, differences were not significant between normal and overweight categories. Indians in the obese category incurred an additional S$310 per year (p<0.10) more than those of normal weight. For Malays, no significant differences by BMI category were identified. Aggregate burden is estimated at S$261M (million) (95% CI: 57M to 465M) with 68% from medical expenditures. Chinese, Malays and Indians make up 79%, 12% and 9% of the population, respectively, but account for 76%, 19% and 4% of the costs of excess weight respectively.


Excess weight imposes a substantial health and economic burden among older Singaporeans. Successful efforts to prevent and reduce obesity prevalence may generate both health and economic improvements.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Junxing, C; Huynh, VA; Lamoureux, E; Tham, KW; Finkelstein, EA

Published Date

  • September 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 12 / 9

Start / End Page

  • e064357 -

PubMed ID

  • 36113947

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9486358

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2044-6055

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2044-6055

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-064357


  • eng