Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The High Cost of Weighing Too Much

We all know that illness is expensive considering doctor bills, tests, treatments, and medications. Have you ever thought about the additional costs of time lost from work, travel to and from the doctor, and hiring someone to do what you were physically unable to, even if it’s just make dinner? Recently George Washington University researchers assessed all these factors and calculated something close: the cost of being overweight or obese.

Someone who is overweight has a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 but less than 30. For someone 5’ 5” tall, this would mean a weight between 150 and 179 pounds, regardless of gender. An overweight man or woman 5’ 9” tall would weigh between 169 and 202. The cost of being overweight varies between women and men: for women, it’s $524 annually while for men it’s $432. (The cost difference between women and men is due to the findings that overweight and obese women earn less than those at a healthy weight, while men are not disadvantaged this way.)

Obesity begins where overweight ends, so having a BMI over 30 makes someone obese. The annual cost of carrying this much additional weight is alarming: $4879 for women and $2646 for men. What’s equally concerning is that two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese and almost 18% of teenagers are obese. Can you imagine what the cost of this weight will be to these teens over their lifetimes if they don’t take the weight off?

While there are so many reasons to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight besides cost, money is a big motivator for lots of us. I know of several people who are delaying medical treatment due to its cost, so next time I’ll look at some ways we can actually save money by making healthy lifestyle changes.
Source: USA Today 9/22/10

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