Obesity cost-of-illness studies: an international perspective

Document Type


Publication details

Kortt, MA 2000, 'Obesity cost-of-illness studies: an international perspective', TEN: Contemporary Psychiatry in Focus, vol. 2, no. 8, pp. 59-62.

Peer Reviewed



Abstract What are the economic costs of obesity? Several studies conducted in the United States and overseas indicate that the costs attributable to obesity are substantial. Obesity has been identified as an independent risk factor for a number of medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, elevated cholesterol levels, musculoskeletal disorders, and several cancers. Because these conditions are costly to treat, obesity clearly has a substantial economic impact. Recent estimates in the US indicate that the annual economic burden of obesity to society totals in the billions of dollars, representing between 5.7% and 7% of the total healthcare expenditure. Studies conducted in Europe and Australasia also suggest that the cost of obesity is considerable, representing between 1% and 5% of the total healthcare expenditure. Although estimates of the cost of obesity differ across studies because different methods are employed, one common finding is that this cost is substantial and that potential savings could be realized with a reduction in body mass.