Obesity is a chronic and progressive disease1,2

Obesity is a chronic and progressive disease, but is often not treated the same as other conditions in this category.1,2

Reexamining obesity

Dr. Holly Lofton discusses how obesity is often managed differently than other chronic diseases and highlights the need for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Obesity is a serious, chronic, and progressive condition that requires long-term medical management.1,2

Chart of change in average weight over time in adults. Majority of adults gained greater than 1 pound per year.

Study Design

Data derived between 1990 and 2008 from 10,038 Americans with a mean baseline age of 29. Body weight was recorded 11 times, with all weight self-reported.3

Obesity is not treated in the same way that other chronic and progressive diseases are treated1

Millions of adults have health challenges. Obesity is one of the most prevalent.

75M adults in the US with hypertension, 78M adults in the US with dyslipidemia who are prescribed medicine, ~100M adults in US living with obesity

People with obesity in the US have higher health care costs than those of normal weight8,9,a,b

With increased medical spending, obesity can become an economic burden on both public and private payers.

Graph depicting increased healthcare costs associated with obesity

aThe WHO defines overweight as a BMI greater than or equal to 25, while obesity is defined as a BMI greater than or equal to 30.
bHealth care costs associated with obesity are mostly due to treating obesity-related comorbidities.
Adapted from Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: payer- and service-specific estimates. Health Aff (Millwood). 2009;28(5):w822-w831.

Do you know the costs of obesity?

For patients and payers, it may be more than you think.

Question 1
Question 1
Question 2
Question 3
Question 4
Question 5

Obesity is the _____ largest global social burden.


Sorry, that's incorrect.

After smoking and armed violence (including war and terrorism), obesity has the third largest direct economic impact on the world’s economy, costing roughly $2.0 trillion annually.10

Assessment based on 2012 economic indicators from the World Bank and 2010 disability-adjusted life years (DALY) data from the Global Burden of Disease database.

Obesity is responsible for around _____ percent of global deaths.


Sorry, that's incorrect.

Nearly 30% of the world’s population is overweight or obese, and around 5% of all deaths are caused by obesity.10

In 2016, obesity and overweight accounted for _____ percent of overall direct and indirect costs associated with chronic disease in the US.


Sorry, that's incorrect.

In 2016, ~47% of total direct and indirect costs of chronic disease were associated with chronic diseases caused by obesity and overweight. The total cost of chronic diseases due to obesity and overweight was equivalent to roughly 9% of the US gross domestic product.11

For patients with a BMI ≥40 kg/m2, a weight loss of 5% could reduce their medical costs by $_____ each year.


Sorry, that's incorrect.

A weight loss of 5% could save patients with a BMI ≥40 kg/m2 an estimated $2,137 annually.11

In their lifetime, a 20-year-old patient with obesity will incur a societal cost of approximately _____ more than a normal-weight peer.


Sorry, that's incorrect.

A 20-year-old with obesity will incur an additional societal cost of $28,020 more than a normal-weight peer in their lifetime.12

(Ref: Fallah-Fini 2017)

Obesity can impair health


Diagnosis is the first step to treating obesity



1. Bray GA, Kim KK, Wilding JPH. Obesity: a chronic relapsing progressive disease. A position statement of the World Obesity Federation. Obes Rev. 2017;18(7):715-723.

2. Garvey WT, Mechanick JI, Brett EM, et al. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology comprehensive clinical practice guidelines for medical care of patients with obesity. Endocr Pract. 2016;22(suppl 3):1-203.

3. Malhotra R, Ostbye T, Riley CM, Finkelstein EA. Young adult weight trajectories through midlife by body mass category: Young Adult Weight Trajectories. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013;21(9):1923-1934.

4. Facts about hypertension. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm

5. High cholesterol facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm

6. Adult obesity facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

7. US Census Bureau. QuickFacts: United States. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US#viewtop

8. Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: payer- and service-specific estimates. Health Aff (Millwood). 2009;28(5):w822-w831.

9. Obesity and overweight. World Health Organization website. Accessed March 1, 2021. http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight

10. Dobbs R, Sawers C, Thompson F, Manyika J, Woetzel J, Child P, McKenna S, Spatharou A. Overcoming obesity: an initial economic analysis. McKinsey Global Institute. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/economic%20studies%20temp/our%20insights/how%20the%20world%20could%20better%20fight%20obesity/mgi_overcoming_obesity_full_report.ashx

11. Cawley J, Meyerhoefer C, Biener A, Hammer M, Wintfeld N. Savings in medical expenditures associated with reductions in body mass index among US adults with obesity, by diabetes status. Pharmacoeconomics. 2015;33(7):707-722.

12. Fallah-Fini S, Adam A, Cheskin LJ, Bartsch SM, Lee BY. The additional costs and health effects of a patient having overweight or obesity: a computational model. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017;25(10):1809-1815.


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