Is Obesity Costlier for Women than Men?

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Hey folks, you know how we often hear about women’s dry cleaning costs being higher than men’s, and the same service at say, a salon, are often more expensive for women than they are for men? Well, have you heard that obesity costs more for women than men? It’s true, guys and gals. I have read the research, and it’s not very nice to the fairer sex!

A couple of days ago, George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services published a new study on the costs associated with obesity1. Obesity is defined as having a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 302.

The study stated that the annual costs of being obese are $4,879 for an obese woman and $2,646 for an obese man. The overall annual costs of being overweight are $524 and $432 for women and men, respectively. That is a big difference. Now, Henry, you ask…why the huge gap in these costs?

Well, I’ll tell ya! The first thing that drives these costs sky high, no matter what your sex, is medical expenses. The study lists many health concerns that increase with obesity. The study states: The obesity epidemic has been accompanied by an increase in the prevalence of comorbidities, including type II diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, hypercholesterolemia, asthma, sleep apnea, musculoskeletal diseases, stomach ulcer, gallbladder diseases, chronic liver disease and certain types of cancer (Malnick and Knobler, 2006; NHLBI, 1998)3. In addition, studies have shown that obesity reduces life expectancy (Fontaine et al., 2003) and increases disability (Sturm et al., 2004)4.

In addition, another huge cost for obese women was job-related-i.e. obese women are more likely to lose out on jobs due to their weight. These additional costs were ‘the result of lost wages’ as stated in the study. There are also ‘higher work-related costs’ that were not due to lost wages. This would include things like missed days at work.

Finally, the last item that drove costs through the roof for obese women more than for obese men was ‘the purchase of personal goods.’ This can include anything from clothes to additional gas in your car, to haul around more weight! Ever thought of that one? The researchers did! It costs anywhere from an additional $16 to $36 (depending upon their level of obesity) a year for obese men and women to get around in their cars. Even life insurance costs more for those who are obese.

We all know there are many, many reasons to lose weight and get your body into the healthy BMI range. This is yet another example…lose weight, and save money!

Sources

1) http://www.gwumc.edu/sphhs/departments/healthpolicy/pdf/HeavyBurdenReport.pdf
2) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
3) Malnick, S. D. H., & Knobler, H. (2006). The medical complications of obesity. QJM, 99(9),565-579. doi:10.1093/qjmed/hcl085
4) Fontaine, K. R., Redden, D. T., Wang, C., Westfall, A. O., & Allison, D. B. (2003). Years of lifelost due to obesity. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 289(2), 187-193. doi:10.1001/jama.289.2.187

4 COMMENTS

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