Obese women incur higher living costs

Being obese can be bad for your health, and for your wallet.

That’s the conclusion a group of GW professors drew when calculating the cost of obesity.

Researchers calculated the actual price a person pays per year for being obese, and found that additional annual costs for obese women stand at $4,879, and $2,646 for obese men.

Higher direct medical costs, including hospital or doctor’s office care, emergency room visits and prescription medications are some of the primary reasons for the costs associated with obesity. Even simple personal expenditures, like clothing or other daily needs, can cost more for an obese person, the study found.

“As a person goes from overweight, to obese, to moderately obese, to morbidly obese their cost of living increases exponentially,” Christine Ferguson, associate research professor of health policy and one of the study’s authors, said.

“We are saying that if you lose an increment of your weight it will improve your economic status,” Ferguson said.

The six-month study also found a gender discrepancy in the work-related expenses for obese male and female workers. While researchers found no loss in wages for an obese man, 40 percent of an obese woman’s additional yearly expense of $4,879 results from lost wages.

Ferguson said an actual double standard in the workplace for obese men and women would be the subject of more research, but added that “there are a lot of things that are harder as a female than a male in the workplace.”

Potential racial and ethnic disparities could be a topic for future research in obesity-related costs, she added.

Ferguson said there is an incentive to talking to people about losing weight.

“There has been a lot of conversation about the cost of obesity on the national level but not that much on the individual level,” Ferguson said. “We want to make people look at it from a personal perspective.”

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