WASHINGTON — The health cost of obesity in the United States jumped over the past decade, from $74 billion in 1998 to approximately $147 billion today, based on data from a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Research Triangle Institute.
“Obesity affects every body system,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, said during opening remarks at the agency's inaugural Weight of the Nation conference on obesity.
Obesity accounted for 6.5% of overall annual medical costs in the United States in 1998, but that proportion increased to 9.1% by 2006, said the study's lead author, Eric Finkelstein, Ph.D., of the independent Research Triangle Institute.
The annual cost of medical care per adult in the United States is 41% less for a normal-weight individual than for an obese individual. Prescription drugs are among the top contributors to the costs of obesity, Dr. Finkelstein said. In 2006, across all insurance payers, the average annual prescription drug cost for a normal-weight individual was $707, compared with $1,275 for an obese individual.