Photo: Flickr/Emilio Labrador
America’s growing obesity costs twice previous estimates and more than smoking, Sharon Begley at Reuters reports.Buildings and infrastructure are being remodeled to suit obese people and cars burn a billion gallons more gasoline than they would if people weighed what they did in 1960, Begley writes.
A recent study by the Mayo Clinic showed that smokers’ medical costs were $1,275 more than average. Obese people cost $1,275 more, and morbidly obese people cost up to $5,500 more every year.
“Smoking added about 20 per cent a year to medical costs,” Mayo’s James Naessens told Reuters. “Obesity was similar, but morbid obesity increased those costs by 50 per cent a year. There really is an economic justification for employers to offer programs to help the very obese lose weight.”
The U.S. healthcare reform of 2010 allows employers to charge obese patients 30 to 50 per cent more if they don’t participate in a wellness program, according to Reuters. Obese employees are also less productive than their healthy-weight counterparts because they miss more days of work.
The decreased productivity can also cut into paychecks: Overweight women make $13,847 less than average, according to a study led by Timothy Judge at the University of Florida and published by the American Psychological Association that studied the salaries of nearly 25,000 U.S. men and women
SEE ALSO: The 10 Happiest States In America >
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