Spending on obesity escalates

Healthcare spending for obese Americans is growing faster than for those who are of normal weight, concludes a new issue brief by the Congressional Budget Office.

According to the CBO report, the number of obese Americans--those with a body mass index of 30 or higher--as a proportion of the population has risen from 13 percent in 1987 to 28 percent in 2007.

Although healthcare costs for all categories of Americans have risen regardless of weight, those who are obese cost far more to treat, notes the CBO. In 1987, it cost 8 percent more to treat an obese patient than one of average weight. In 2007, it cost 38 percent more to treat an obese patient.

In 1987, healthcare spending on a patient of average weight was $2,440 in 2009 dollars. In 2007 it totaled $4,030. For obese patients, spending rose from $2,630 to $5,560. The cost of treating a morbidly obese patient rose from $2,530 to $7,010.

The CBO attributes the increasing spending gap to a variety of factors, "including changes in the average health status of the obese population and technological advances that offer new, costly treatments for conditions that are particularly common among obese individuals," such as gastric bypass surgery.

For more:
- read the HFMA article
- read the CBO brief