Obesity: The Cost
of Doing Nothing
- In 2009, there were 2.4 million more obese adults in America than in 2007. 63.2 percent of U.S. adults were obese or overweight in 2009.
- In 2009, the state achieved the unhealthy distinction of having two-thirds (66.7 percent) of all adult Texans overweight or obese, with 29.5 percent obese and 37.2 percent overweight. Only 33.1 percent of adult Texans were of a normal weight.
- The prevalence of obese Texas adults more than doubled in the last two decades, from 12.3 percent in 1990 to 29.5 percent in 2009.1
Obesity could cost Texas businesses $32.5 billion annually by 2030, if current trends in obesity and health care costs continue.
- From 1980 to now, the rate of obesity among U.S. children and adolescents tripled.
- 20.4 percent of Texas children aged 10 to 17 are obese, compared to 16.4 percent of U.S. children.
- Texas tied with Arkansas in 2007 for seventh place among states in its share of children who are obese.
- Obese kids have an 80 percent chance of staying obese their entire lives.2
Health Costs of Obesity and Costs to Employers
- U.S. health care costs due to obesity doubled in less than a decade and account for 9.1 percent of annual health costs, or $147 billion.
- Average health care spending for obese individuals was $1,429 or 41.5 percent higher than that of normal-weight persons in 2006.
- Obesity accounts for 12.9 percent of private insurer costs.
- Obesity is now the leading cause of premature heart attacks.
- Individuals with a BMI greater than 35 represent 37 percent of the population but account for 61 percent of the costs due to excess weight.
- Obesity cost Texas businesses $9.5 billion in 2009.3
- A recent study of IBM’s self-insured program showed 2008 average per capita health insurance claims for obese children were $2,907, compared to $1,640 for non-obese children. Children with type 2 diabetes had average claims of $10,789. The study found that hospitalization rates for obese children with chronic health conditions were up to 2.9 times higher than for non-obese children with no chronic conditions.4
- Obesity could cost Texas businesses $32.5 billion annually by 2030, if current trends in obesity and health care costs continue.
- Wellspring Camps, a weight loss camp with several locations in the U.S., estimates that an obese 18-year old that remains obese throughout adulthood can expect to spend approximately $550,000 in obesity related health costs during his or her lifetime.5
Health care Industry
Hospitals are facing added costs to be able to accommodate and treat larger patients. Examples:
- stretchers, wheelchairs, blood pressure cuffs, hospital gowns, beds, diagnostic equipment such as MRI machines, and doorways all can be too small to accommodate obese patients.
- more medical personnel are needed to move and assist patients; also more personnel needed for surgeries.
- medical personnel can find it difficult to locate airways to insert a breathing tube.
- multiple surgeries can be needed for procedures such as wound closure that could be done all at once for a non-obese person.6
- The U.S. airline industry consumes 350 million more gallons of fuel at an extra cost of $275 million annually due to an increase in the average weight of passengers.7
- One study found that passenger weight gain accounted for an additional one billion gallons of fuel consumed per year between 1960 and 2002.8
Impact on Various Industries
Manufacturers are adjusting and refitting the size of their products due to a growing overweight population. Some affected industries include:
- clothing for children and adults.
- furniture for homes, schools and offices.
- public seating for sports arenas, theaters, classrooms, churches, and restaurants.
- bathroom fixtures such as toilet seats, showers, and bathtubs.
- cemetery supplies including caskets, hearses and plots.
All links were valid at the time of publication. Changes to web sites not maintained by the office of the Texas Comptroller may not be reflected in the links below.
- 1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “No State Has Met 2010 National Goal of 15 Percent Adult Obesity Prevalence,” Atlanta, Georgia, August 3, 2010, (press release); “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System: Prevalence and Trends Data: Overweight and Obesity (BMI)-2009,”, custom queries created; and Texas Department of State Health Services, “Texas Overweight and Obesity Statistics,” DSHS Obesity Data Sheet (May 2010). (Last visited January 28, 2011.)
- 2 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Health Topics: Childhood Obesity,” ; “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System: Prevalence and Trends Data: All States-2009,”, custom queries; Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2009, by Jeffrey Levi, Serena Vinter, Liz Richardson, Rebecca St. Laurent and Laura M. Segal (Washington, D.C., July 2009), p. 7, ); Gopal K. Singh, Michael D. Kogan, and Peter C. van Dyck, “Changes in State-Specific Childhood Obesity and Overweight Prevalence in the United States From 2003 to 2007,” Archive of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (May 3, 2010), p. E3; American Heart Association, “Overweight in Children,” ; and Catharine Paddock, “2 in 5 Kids in New York Are Overweight Or Obese,” Medical News Today (September 6, 2010) . (Last visited January 28, 2011.)
- 3 Eric A. Finkelstein, Justin G. Trogdon, Joel W. Cohen and William Dietz, “Annual Medical Spending Attributable To Obesity: Payer- And Service-Specific Estimates,” Health Affairs (July 27, 2009), pp. W826 and W828-W829, ; and Eric A. Finkelstein, Ian C. Fiebelkorn and Guijing Wang, “National Medical Spending Attributable To Overweight and Obesity: How Much, And Who’s Paying?” Health Affairs (May 14, 2003), p.W3-223; Kenneth E. Thorpe, Curtis S. Florence, David H. Howard and Peter Joski, “The Rising Prevalence of Treated Disease: Effects on Private Health Insurance Spending,” Health Affairs (June 27, 2005), p. W5-322; Texas State Data Center and Office of the State Demographer, Obesity, Overweight and Normal Weight Projections for the State of Texas, 2007 to 2030 (San Antonio, Texas, August 2010), p. 1; and Reuters Health, “Obesity Tied to Early Heart Attack,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology (September 16, 2008) (Last visited January 28, 2011.)
- 4 Martin-J. Sepulveda, Fan Tait, Edward Zimmerman and Dee Edington, “Impact of Childhood Obesity on Employers,” Health Affairs (March 2010), pp. 513 and 515-516.
- 5 Wellspring Camps, “Cost of Obesity,” (Last visited January 27, 2011.)
- 6 John Donvan and Cynthia McFadden, “Accommodating Obese Patients,” ABC Nightline, November 18, 2010, (Last visited January 27, 2011.)
- 7 Andrew L. Dannenberg, Deron C. Burton and Richard J. Jackson, “Economic and Environmental Costs of Obesity: The Impact on Airlines,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2004), p. 27.
- 8 Sheldon H. Jacobson and Douglas M. King, “Measuring the Potential for the Automobile Fuel Savings in the U.S.: The Impact of Obesity,” Transportation Research Part D (2009), pp. 6-13.