Hidden Cost of Obesity

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Many of us have read or heard about the driving cost of obesity. We’ve all heard about the factors that lead to obesity, including the illnesses associated to obesity (hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, etc.). We’ve all heard about the negative aspects of obesity, and the very many solutions. For those of us that are listening, we now know the serious implication and financial burden obesity exhibits. However, I had an extra question that isn’t talked about much. How much is actually spent on obesity, including the research processes? The highest cost stated, at this point is $190 billion dollars, for indirect and direct costs. The CDC defines indirect and direct cost as follows:

  • Direct medical costs may include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to obesity.
  • Indirect costs relate to morbidity and mortality costs.

What I am looking for, specifically is the cost spent on research, which is also generated from the government, using identity tags as grants and federal funding.

On National Institute Health website, it states that “NIH invests over $30.9 billion annually in medical research for the American people.” Eighty percent of that comes from competitive grants. How much of the $30.9 billion spent on obesity isn’t listed, or I couldn’t find it. Next, I went to NIH Research In Action page to see what type of groundbreaking research that’s offered on obesity. I didn’t find anything listed here. So, I went to National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) page to find anything that is directly related to obesity, and/or any current studies or research. I found four clinical research studies:

07-DK-0077: Study of the Phenotype of Overweight and Obese Adults

03-DK-0256: Inhibition of Intestinal Glucose Absorption by the Bioflavonoid Quercetin in the Obese and in Obese Type 2 Diabetics

09-DK-0238: Diet-Induced-Obesity Resistant Phenotypes in Humans

06-DK-0036: Chronic Sleep Deprivation as a Risk Factor for Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity

The cost of each group was not listed. The hidden cost, I have a feeling, are astronomical, and probably higher than the $190 billion price tag. Thoroughly examining where the exact expenditures are could offer a greater spectrum into the better cost saving techniques.

I have a belief that the fight to decrease obesity is to preach and push forward a healthier lifestyle. Focusing on size has created many potholes of destruction, such as eating disorders, surgical changes, and chronic illnesses; and neither listed destructions have decreased the rise and cost of obesity.  However, it is not as simple as saying what needs to happen. Research such as that done by organizations like NIH are especially relevant. Identifying triggering points that drive obesity allows health care professionals to adequately diagnosed and lead overweight and obese patients.  So, I guess what I am saying is that the message to push success in weight loss should become a message, a theme, a chat, a marketing strategy, a branding message, an absolution. If it can work with HIV/AIDS, cigarettes, or drinking and driving, it can work for obesity.






13 thoughts on “Hidden Cost of Obesity

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