Academic journal article Human Ecology

OBESITY'S IMPACT: Increasing Health Care Costs Varies by State

Academic journal article Human Ecology

OBESITY'S IMPACT: Increasing Health Care Costs Varies by State

Article excerpt

The prevalence of obesity has risen dramatically in the U.S., but there has been little information about the economic impact of this trend for individual states.

John Cawley, professor of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell's College of Human Ecology, recently published research that provides new insights on how individual states are affected by the health care costs of obesity. The article is published in the January 2018 issue of Clinical Chemistry, which is devoted to the topic of obesity.

"We have, for the first time, estimated the percentage of health care spending that is devoted to obesity, using microdata for each state," said Cawley, who co-authored "The Impact of Obesity on Medical Costs and Labor Market Outcomes in the U.S." with Adam Biener of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh University.

Large differences exist across states, Cawley said. "In 2015, states such as Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania devoted five to six percent of their total medical expenditures to treating obesity-related illness, whereas North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin spent more than twice that--over 12 percent of all health care dollars in those states were used to treat obesity-related illness."

Overall, the authors found the percent of U.S. national medical expenditures devoted to treating obesity-related illness in adults rose from 6.13 percent in 2001 to 7.91 percent in 2015, an increase of 29 percent. …

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