Personal Cost of Obesity

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The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services’ Department of Health Policy rolled out a research report entitled “A Heavy Burden: The Individual Costs of Being Overweight and Obese in the United States” on September 21, 2010. The findings highlighted for the first time the financial toll of being obese and overweight on the individual. 

The research report was introduced and discussed September 21st at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The panel consisted of Dr. David Satcher, the 16th United States Surgeon General; Dr. William Deetz, CDC Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity; Joseph Nadglowski, Junior President/CEO of Obesity Action Coalition; and co-authors of the research report Dr. Avi Dor and Christine Ferguson, Professors at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services Department of Health Policy. 

The report found an increase in the costs of being obese compared to being overweight. The overall cost of being an obese woman is $4,879 and $2,646 for an obese man. There were incremental increases in costs when comparing morbidly obese individuals to moderately obese individuals. If you compare obese women to overweight women, the costs are 9 times higher for obese women. Obese men had 6 times higher costs compared to overweight men. The annual costs for obese women are significantly higher than the costs for their male counterparts. The differences are due to women being disproportionately affected by lost wages. The study is another step forward in the call to action to reduce overweight and obesity that Dr. Satcher put forth as the 16th United States Surgeon General.

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