Cost of Obesity Approaching $300 Billion a Year

The total economic cost of overweight and obesity in the United States is $270 billion per year while the cost in Canada is about $30 billion a year, a new study shows. According to the Society of Actuaries (SOA), the $300 billion total cost in the United States and Canada is the result of: increased need for medical care ($127 billion); loss of worker productivity due to higher rates of death ($49 billion); loss of productivity due to disability of active workers ($43 billion); and loss of productivity due to total disability ($72 billion). The findings are based on a review of papers published primarily between January 1980 and June 2009.

When the SOA researchers separated the economic cost of overweight and obesity to the United States in 2009, they found that it was $72 billion for overweight and $198 billion for obesity. People are considered overweight if their body-mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9 and obese if their BMI is higher than 30.

"Overweight and obesity have been shown to increase the rate of several common adverse medical conditions, resulting in this extraordinary economic cost to society," said study author Don Behan.