The Economics of Obesity: Improved Health Profiles Among Obese Patients May Spur Higher Health Care Costs
Recent evidence suggests that obesity-related mortality rates may have decreased over the past few decades, despite the dramatically increased prevalence of obesity (Flegal et al., 2005). Some critics of the anti-obesity campaign, including the Center for Consumer Freedom, have cited such findings as proof that the threat of obesity to public health has been overstated. But mortality is not the only measure of obesity’s negative impact on society. The causal relationships among obesity, morbidity, and increased medical costs are well documented and, given ever-rising U.S. health care costs, should not be ignored. Increased survivability is good news, but medical innovations that mitigate the consequences of obesity are expensive: improved medical technology and increased treatment, while reducing the health effects of obesity, may increase obesity-related health care costs.