Wednesday, September 8, 2010

US Obesity Increases From 1987 to 2007 Raised Medical Costs By 3 Percent: Obesity Effect On Federal Budget Uncertain

The twenty year increase in US obesity from 1987 to 2007 accounted for a 3 percent increase in health care spending.

From the Congressional Budget Office summary report, "HOW DOES OBESITY IN ADULTS AFFECT SPENDING ON HEALTH CARE?":
A relatively simple set of calculations using survey data indicates that if the distribution of adults by weight between 1987 and 2007 had changed only to reflect demographic changes, such as the aging of the population, then health care spending per adult in 2007 would have been roughly 3 percent below the actual 2007 amount.
The overall effect of lowering obesity rates on total healthcare expenses and on the federal budget is not clear because of the added medical expenses and social security expenses due to the increased life expectancy.

CBO states:
How reducing obesity would affect both total (rather than per capita) spending for health care and the federal budget over time is less clear. To the extent that people, on average, lived longer because fewer individuals were obese, savings from lower per capita spending would be at least partially offset by additional expenditures for health care during those added years of life. Moreover, the impact on the federal budget would include not only changes in federal spending on health care but also changes in tax revenues and in spending for retirement programs such as Social Security, for which costs are directly tied to longevity. As a result, the net impact of reductions in obesity rates on national health care expenditures and on federal budget deficits would depend on the magnitude of those various effects.
Read CBO's summary report here.
CBO's full 12-page report is available here.

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