Obesity costs the health care system more than smoking does, a new study has found. The annual health costs for someone who is obese average $1,850 more than for a person a normal weight. The excess costs were up to $5,500 per year for people who are morbidly obese. Smokers' health costs averaged $1,275 more than those of nonsmokers.
Researchers studied the additional costs "of smoking and obesity among more than 30,000 Mayo Clinic employees and retirees. All had continuous health insurance coverage between 2001 and 2007," reports research-reporting service Newswise. The findings were published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The additional costs associated with obesity appeared to be lower after they were adjusted for other related health problems. "This may lead to underestimation of the true incremental costs, since obesity is a risk factor for developing chronic conditions," said James P. Moriary and his fellow researchers. (Read more)