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Obesity leads to higher healthcare costs than smoking
04.03.2012Obesity increases healthcare costs more so than smoking, according to a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The findings suggest that individuals who are overweight may benefit from getting involved in a healthcare wellness program that provides them with access to preventative treatments.
Smoking is known to be linked to a greater risk of heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer, all of which are chronic health problems that can be extremely expensive to treat. However, the fact that obesity-related health problems cost even more highlights the economic toll excess weight can take.
For the study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic analyzed health records from 30,000 former employees of the clinic. The researchers analyzed the healthcare costs of participants over the course of seven years.
Results showed that people who smoked spent on average $1,275 more per year than non-smokers. Overweight participants had annual healthcare costs that were $1,850 higher than lean participants. Morbid obesity increased a person's annual healthcare expenses by $5,500.
The team added that individuals who simultaneously smoke and are obese may have even higher healthcare expenses. They described the issues as multiplicative.
The researchers said their findings underscore how destructive obesity and smoking can be for society. Not only do they impair the health of large numbers of people, but they also send healthcare costs significantly higher. This is a problem that affects everyone in the country.
They did say that preventive wellness programs could help individuals kick their nicotine habits or drop their excess weight. A focus on connecting more individuals to healthcare wellness programs could play an important role in minimizing the future impact of obesity and smoking.
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