THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Obesity hurts wallet as well as health

The study says being obese is more costly than being merely overweight. The study says being obese is more costly than being merely overweight. (Tim Sloan/ AFP/ Getty Images/ File)
By Lauran Neergaard
Associated Press / September 21, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

WASHINGTON — Obesity puts a drag on the wallet as well as health, especially for women.

Doctors have long known that medical bills are higher for the obese, but that’s only a portion of the real-life costs.

George Washington University researchers added in things like employee sick days, lost productivity, even the need for extra gasoline — and found the annual cost of being obese is $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man.

That’s far more than the cost of being merely overweight — $524 for women and $432 for men, concluded the report being released today, which analyzed previously published studies to come up with a total.

Why the difference between the sexes? Studies suggest larger women earn less than skinnier women, while wages don’t differ when men pack on the pounds. That was a big surprise, said study coauthor and health policy professor Christine Ferguson.

Researchers had expected everybody’s wages to suffer with obesity, but “this indicates you’re not that disadvantaged as a guy, from a wage perspective,’’ said Ferguson.

Then consider that obesity is linked to earlier death.

The report averaged in the economic value of lost life. That brought women’s annual obesity costs up to $8,365, and men’s to $6,518.