Losing weight may help save money, according to a study published today which found that weight loss for adults at any age leads to cost savings.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in the US found that a 20-year-old adult who goes from being obese to overweight would save an average of USD 17,655 in direct medical costs and productivity losses over their lifetime.
If the same person were to go from being obese to a healthy weight, an average savings of USD 28,020 in direct medical costs and productivity losses can occur, researchers said.
The study, published today in the journal Obesity, found that helping a 40-year-old adult go from being obese to overweight can save an average of USD 18,262. If the same person went from being obese to normal weight, an average savings of USD 31,447 can follow, they said.
"Over half the costs of being overweight can be from productivity losses, mainly due to missed work days. This means that just focusing on medical costs misses a big part of the picture, though theyre a consideration, too," said Bruce Y Lee from Johns Hopkins University.
"Productivity losses affect businesses, which in turn affects the economy, which then affects everyone," Lee said.
When absenteeism occurs in the workforce, others, at times, have to take on a larger workload.
This all funnels downstream and adds to the societal costs of obesity. Health insurance premiums increase across the board, even for healthy patients, as insurers spread the cost of obesity and its associated conditions, researchers said.
Researchers developed a computational simulation model to to show the lifetime costs and health effects for an individual with obesity, overweight and healthy weight statuses at ages 20 through 80 years in increments of 10.
The team found that cost savings peak at age 50 with an average total savings of USD 36,278.
After age 50, the largest cost savings occur when an individual with obesity moves to the normal weight category as opposed to the overweight category, emphasising the importance of weight loss as people age.
The finding is important because people aged 50 years and older make up more than 60 per cent incremental societal costs, which includes higher taxes to support government insurance and higher copays and other out-of-pocket expenses, researchers said.