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Obesity Will Cost Us Up to $9.1 Trillion in Medical Costs Over Next Decade: An Economic Analysis

Obesity Will Cost Us Up to $9.1 Trillion in Medical Costs Over Next Decade: An Economic Analysis

Jun 30, 2024

Obesity Will Cost Us Up to $9.1 Trillion in Medical Costs Over Next Decade: An Economic Analysis


Obesity is a significant issue in the United States, posing considerable financial challenges. It is projected that in the next decade, obesity will cost the U.S. up to $9.1 trillion in excess medical expenditures. This increase in cost stems from higher healthcare needs in Medicare and Medicaid, as well as private healthcare spending.

Economic Impact

The economic impact of obesity is vast. Due to decreased labor supply and productivity, the U.S. economy could be between $13.5 trillion and $14.7 trillion smaller over the next ten years. This loss in economic activity will also affect federal tax revenue, with an estimated loss of up to $2.6 trillion.

Healthcare Costs

Individuals with obesity often face chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, strokes, and asthma. These conditions require expensive interventions, increasing the overall cost of healthcare. On average, the excess medical cost per person with obesity is significant, adding up to hundreds of billions annually.

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Impact on Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare and Medicaid will bear a substantial portion of these excess costs. As obesity rates rise, the burden on these government programs will increase, leading to higher spending and more strain on these essential services.

Job Market and Productivity

Obesity also affects the job market. Individuals with obesity-related health issues are likely to have reduced productivity or may be unable to work. This reduction in the labor supply can further dampen economic growth and lead to additional financial strains on both individuals and the economy as a whole.

Tax Revenue

The drop in productivity and labor supply translates into lower earnings, which reduces the amount of income taxes collected. This will likely result in a shortfall of up to $2.6 trillion in tax revenue over the next decade, affecting the government's ability to fund various programs and initiatives.

Rising Rates

The prevalence of obesity is expected to continue growing. Current projections indicate that the percentage of adults with obesity may increase from today's rates to over half the adult population by 2034.

Chronic Conditions and Quality of Life

Chronic conditions associated with obesity, like heart disease and diabetes, not only drive up healthcare costs but also reduce the quality of life for individuals. Addressing these health issues is crucial for improving overall public health and reducing the financial load on the healthcare system.

GLP-1 Drugs

The report points out the potential of GLP-1 drugs, such as Ozempic and Mounjaro, in combating obesity. These medications can significantly reduce calorie intake, helping individuals lose weight and manage chronic conditions. However, the high cost of these drugs, which can exceed $1,000 monthly without insurance, makes them less accessible.

Future Projections

As patents on these drugs expire, prices are expected to decrease, potentially making them more widely available. If these drugs become cost-effective for broader use, they could substantially reduce obesity rates and related healthcare costs.


Failure to address the obesity epidemic comes with vast economic and health-related costs. Policymakers face the challenge of implementing practical solutions to curb obesity rates and alleviate the associated financial and health burdens. Continued focus on prevention and treatment options, as well as making obesity medications more accessible, could play a key role in mitigating these impacts.


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