- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The obesity epidemic in the U.S. has cost the U.S. economy $1.72 trillion, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs and more than a trillion dollars in lost productivity, according to a report published Tuesday by the Milken Institute, a California-based economic think tank.

The report, titled “America’s Obesity Crisis: The Health and Economic Impact of Excess Weight,” draws on an analysis of data from federal health institutions, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Americans spent approximately $480.7 billion in direct health care costs in 2016 on conditions related to risk factors of obesity and overweight, the authors wrote. Lost economic productivity was calculated at $1.24 trillion.

Almost 40 percent of U.S. adults have obesity, defined by the World Health Organization as a body mass index of 30 or higher.

Co-author of the report Hugh Waters, Ph.D., said that more effective weight-control strategies are needed to reduce the economic and health impact on disease related to overweight and obesity.

“Despite the billions of dollars spent each year on public health programs and consumer weight-loss products, the situation isn’t improving,” Mr. Waters said in a statement. “A new approach is needed.”

In the report, the researchers looked at 23 chronic conditions linked to obesity and overweight and assessed the economic consequences. For example, Type 2 diabetes — of which 64 percent of cases are linked to obesity and overweight — can cost the average patient $7,109 in treatment and $12,633 in productivity costs.

The researchers calculated direct costs to the U.S. public for Type 2 diabetes as $1.21 billion and indirect costs of $215 billion.

• Laura Kelly can be reached at lkelly@washingtontimes.com.

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