Severe Obesity Increases Healthcare Expenses by More Than $8,000

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Mollie Turner, The Obesity Society: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Class III Obesity Increases Healthcare Expenditures by More Than $8,000 per Patient

Over 10 Years Among US Veterans

Results of a Study of Veterans Affairs Healthcare Expenditures from 2001 – 2011

ATLANTA, GA – In the first analysis of health expenditures attributable to obesity over 10 years, Duke University medical researchers found that Class III obesity (having a BMI greater than 40 kg/m2) is associated with significantly higher healthcare costs – $8,138 over ten years – compared with normal weight (having a BMI below 25 kg/m2). Authors also found that the difference in healthcare costs for veterans with Class III obesity compared to normal weight veterans rose substantially from $635 in 2002 to $3,307 in 2011. This retrospective study of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare expenditures, “Long-Term Healthcare Costs of Overweight and Obese Veterans,” is being presented at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting at ObesityWeekSM 2013.

“This is the first study to examine healthcare costs attributable to obesity over a period longer than four years,” said study author Matthew Maciejewski, PhD, of the Durham VA Medical Center and Duke University Department of Medicine. “Because we had such a large sample size, we were able to examine VA costs separately for veterans in clinically meaningful subclasses of obesity.”

The VA-funded study estimated the association between body mass index (BMI) and VA healthcare expenditure trends from 2002 through 2011, and included a random sample of 263,568 veterans who obtained VA care and for whom height and weight data were available. Veterans were grouped according to BMI class: Class I (BMI 30.0 – 34.9 kg/m2), Class II (35.0 – 39.9), and Class III, using a mixed model analysis adjusted for age, gender, race, marital and copay status. Veterans with Class III obesity had the highest risk for obesity-related health problems such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

“Researchers often make the tie between obesity, poor health, and higher healthcare costs,” said Emily Dhurandhar, PhD, incoming TOS Advocacy Chair and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “This study is unique because it illustrates the extent of this increase among a large cohort of veterans. The dramatic increase in healthcare costs over the 10-year period clearly demonstrates the need for effective obesity prevention and treatment measures.”

Since it’s founding, TOS has been committed to improving obesity research, treatment and prevention to help improve the lives of those affected. This commitment can be seen through our various programs aimed at closing the gap between science and treatment.

Read the full abstract here.

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About The Obesity Society

The Obesity Society (TOS) is the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing and treating obesity. Through research, education and advocacy, TOS is committed to improving the lives of those affected by the disease. For more information visit:


About ObesityWeek

ObesityWeekSM is the largest, international event focused on the basic science, clinical application, and prevention and treatment of obesity. TOS and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) host the world’s pre-eminent conference on obesity, ObesityWeekSM 2013, Nov. 11-16, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. For the first time, both organizations hold their respective annual scientific meetings under one roof to unveil exciting new research, discuss emerging treatment and prevention options, and network and present with leaders in the field.

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