How Does Obesity in Adults Affect Spending on Health Care? Congressional Budget Office 8 September 2010

Posted on September 10, 2010. Filed under: Health Economics, Health Status, Public Hlth & Hlth Promotion | Tags: , |

How Does Obesity in Adults Affect Spending on Health Care? Congressional Budget Office 8 September 2010

“Over the past two decades, the adult population in the United States has, on average, become much heavier. From 1987 to 2007, the fraction of adults who were overweight or obese increased from 44 percent to 63 percent; almost two-thirds of the adult population now falls into one of those categories. The share of obese adults rose particularly rapidly, more than doubling from 13 percent to 28 percent. That sharp increase in the fraction of adults who are overweight or obese poses an important public health challenge. Those adults are more likely to develop serious illnesses, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. As a result, that trend also affects spending on health care.

This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issue brief examines changes over time in the distribution of adults among four categories of body weight: underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. Those categories are defined in federal guidelines using a measure known as the body-mass index—a measure that standardizes weight for height. CBO analyzes how past changes in the weight distribution have affected health care spending per adult and projects how future changes might affect spending going forward. (In this issue brief, “health care spending” refers to spending by public and private insurers and out-of-pocket spending by individuals.)”

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