What does it cost an obese 18 year old to remain obese throughout adulthood?


That is the cost of obesity over the course of adult life-a staggering cost to face as an 18 year old. And unfortunately, without significant intervention, 90% of individuals who are obese at 18 will remain so throughout their adult lives.

But here is another way to think about this statistic:
If you’re an 18 year old obese person in the US, you can expect to save $549,907.35 during your lifetime if you reach a normal weight in the next 3-12 months.

Total Cost of being – and staying – obese over a lifetime: $549,907.35

Diagnosis or Condition Total cost to treat, with health insurance Increased cost for obese person*
Colon Cancer. Obese person is 20% more likely to be diagnosed.
Breast Cancer. Obese person is 21% more likely to be diagnosed.
Colon: $72,600
Breast: $44,000
Obese children are 1.5 times more likely to have diabetes than non-obese children
Arthritis / Knee & Hip Issues
Arthritis. About 66% of obese people reported also having arthritis in 2009.Hip & Knee Replacements. Obese people receive about 25.5% more than healthy weight people.
Arthritis: $500 annually
Knee/Hip: $4,257 each
Heart Disease
An obese person is about 20% more likely to have heart disease and suffer a stroke than a non-obese person.
Decreased Life Expectancy
Obesity costs the average person up to 10 years of life expectancy.
The average US worker makes $38,400 per year
Lower Wages
Due to discrimination, the average obese person earns $3.41/hour less than the average non-obese worker.
Average yearly cost of being obese in wages: $6,820
Mental Health Treatment
Obese people are 37% more likely to be treated for depression.
Average cost of mental health treatment: $1,342
Weight Loss Treatment
Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are the two most popular treatments for overweight and obesity among US citizens.
Weight Watchers (1 year): $341.40
Jenny Craig for a year: $5,599
TOTAL, assuming all diagnoses and conditions apply  

*Based on the increased chance that an obese person will suffer from each of these conditions, how much more it costs to be obese

How Did We Determine This?

In determining this figure, Wellspring researchers took into account the cost of treatment for illnesses most directly related to obesity, the percent increased likelihood of diagnosis due to obesity, as well as government statistics about decreased life expectancy, lowered wages, and additional obesity-related health care costs. All costs are calculated for individuals with health insurance.

There are frequently reports about the economics of obesity-what the costs of obesity are to companies, states, and the nation as a whole. And numerous research studies have shown the extensive (but not easily monetized) emotional and social consequences of obesity-decreased likelihood of attending college, lowered self-esteem, and increased risk of social isolation, to name a few.

But if you are obese, the actual cost of obesity over the course of your life is likely to be $549,907.35, even with health insurance. And the cost of obesity is likely to increase as other basic life expenses-such as health insurance premiums and travel costs-are expected to increase significantly in coming years.


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