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Health and Fitness News

The Cost of Obesity

Besides the cost to your health, obesity is costly for your bank account. Here’s how it adds up.

If you’re overweight, there are likely many reasons why you want to trim down. You may admit you want to shed extra pounds to improve your health, boost your self esteem, and fit in your favorite jeans. But saving money should be another motivation to lower the scale. While you may not realize it, obesity hurts your bottom line. That’s right. At the same time obesity grows your waistline, it also drains your bank account.

If you need another reason to get serious about weight loss, here are a few ways obesity hurts your finances.

1. Healthcare Costs

Obesity comes with an increased risk of serious health conditions. Common problems include high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. As a result, you’re at higher risk for stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, cancer, body pain, and mental illness.

Treating these conditions isn’t free, especially not for the healthcare system. Medical costs involve preventive, diagnostic, and treatment care. In the United States, billions of dollars are spent each year treating obesity-related conditions. As the numbers of obese people are increaing, these costs will only go up.

On average, an obese person spends $4,870 a year on medical care. That’s $1,500 more than a person who maintains a healthy weight. Obese people can also expect to spend an average of $1,300 a year on prescription medication, 80 percent more than their peers of proper weight.

2. Loss of Work

Poor health related to obesity results in more days of missed work. This is costly to the employee who loses wages, as well as to the employer who doesn’t get work accomplished. Obese people are more likley to miss work for sick days, short-term time off, and long-term disability. Studies show obese women may earn as much as $2,000 less and men $75 less each year due to missed days of work. The reason for the discrepancy between men and women in this case is unknown.

3. Lack of Productivity

Due to health concerns and physical limitations, people who are obese are more likely to be less productive on the job. Known as presenteeism, employees may be at work, but they can’t perform their responsibilities at the same pace or ability as healthy employees. This can result in lost wages or lost opportunities for advancement in the workplace.

4. Insurance Costs

In some cases, overweight people can expect to pay more for their insurance. From health insurance to life insurance to short-term disability, being overweight often results in higher prices. Lose weight and your premiums may go down.

5. Gasoline Use

While the difference isn’t huge, severely overweight people do spend more on gasoline to fuel their car each year compared to people of a healthy weight. One reason is because overweight people are more likely to buy larger cars. These use more fuel and get worse gas mileage. Additionally, gas mileage goes down when transporting heavier passengers.

6. Clothes

It can be hard for anyone to find clothes that fit just right. It’s even hard—and more expensive—when you’re shopping for clothes in larger sizes. If you continue to gain weight, you also have to buy clothes more often, as you outgrow the ones you have.

7. Weight Loss

Depending on how you go about it, weight loss can be expensive. Many people spend hundreds and thousands of dollars each year on fad diet plans, meal replacements, weight loss products, supplements, workout equipment, and gym memberships. By maintaining a healthy weight, you avoid the need for all that spending.


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