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State- and payer-specific estimates of annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity

The goal of this study is to expand prior analyses by presenting current state-level estimates of the costs of obesity in total and separately for Medicare and Medicaid. Quantifying current Medicare and Medicaid expenditures attributable to obesity is important because high public sector costs of obesity have been a primary motivation for publicly funded obesity prevention efforts at the state level. We also present estimates of the obesity-attributable fraction (OAF) of total, Medicare, and Medicaid expenditures and the percentage of total obesity costs within each state that is funded by the public sector. We used the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, nationally representative data that include information on obesity and medical expenditures, to generate an equation that predicts annual medical expenditures as a function of obesity status. We used the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, state representative data, and the equation generated from the national model to predict state (and payer within state) expenditures and the fraction of expenditures attributable to obesity for each state. Across states, annual medical expenditures would be between 6.7 and 10.7% lower in the absence of obesity. Between 22% (Virginia) and 55% (Rhode Island) of the state-level costs of obesity are financed by the public sector via Medicare and Medicaid. The high costs of obesity at the state level emphasize the need to prevent and control obesity as a way to manage state medical costs


Trogdon, J., Finkelstein, EA., Feagan, C., & Cohen, JW. (2012). State- and payer-specific estimates of annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity. Obesity, 20(1), 214-220. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2011.169

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