SDW news brief: Obesity pumps up healthcare costs

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, September 17, 2010

During the past two decades, the adult population in the United States has not only become heavier, it has also become far more expensive when it comes to providing healthcare coverage, according to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issue brief.

From 1987 to 2007, the percentage of adults who were overweight or obese increased from 44% to 63%, with almost two-thirds of the adult population now falling into one of those categories. The share of obese adults rose particularly rapidly, more than doubling from 13% to 28%.

That sharp increase in the percentage of adults who are overweight or obese pose "an important public health challenge," the CBO analysts note. Those adults are more likely to develop serious illnesses, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension—a trend that also affects healthcare spending.

This corresponding healthcare spending per adult (in 2009 dollars) rose almost 80% from 1987 to 2007, from about $2,560 to $4,550—led in part by the "development and diffusion" of new medical technology, more extensive insurance coverage, the aging of the population, and rising inflation-adjusted prices for healthcare services. That spending grew among all weight categories, but in the data that CBO analyzed, the rate of growth was much more rapid among the obese population.

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Source: HealthLeaders Media

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