Losing weight can help save money

New York: Your efforts to get in shape may pay off literally. A new study has found that weight loss for adults at any age leads to cost savings.

Even going from obese to overweight leads to lower medical costs and productivity savings, according to the study published online in the journal Obesity.

“Over half the costs of being overweight can be from productivity losses, mainly due to missed work days,” said Bruce Lee, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US.

“This means that just focusing on medical costs misses a big part of the picture, though they’re a consideration, too,” Lee added.

“Productivity losses affect businesses, which in turn affects the economy, which then affects everyone,” he said.

A high body mass index (BMI) is linked to a higher risk of serious conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Subsequently, a high BMI and associated conditions can lead to high medical and societal costs and productivity losses.

The new findings suggest that a 20-year-old adult in the US who goes from being obese to overweight would save an average of $17,655 in direct medical costs and productivity losses over the lifetime.

If the same person were to go from being obese to a healthy weight, an average savings of $28,020 in direct medical costs and productivity losses can occur.

Helping a 40-year-old adult go from being obese to overweight can save an average of $18,262.

If the same person went from being obese to normal weight, an average savings of $31,447 can follow, the study said.

For the study, the researchers developed a computational simulation model to represent the US adult population to show the lifetime costs and health effects for an individual with obesity, overweight and healthy weight statuses at ages 20 through 80 in increments of 10.

The model simulated the weight and health status of an adult as he or she ages year by year throughout his or her lifetime to track the individual medical costs and productivity losses of each person.

The estimated direct medical costs to the insurer and health care facility, productivity losses and sick time were included.

The research team found that cost savings peak at age 50 with an average total savings of $36,278.

After age 50, the largest cost savings occur when an individual with obesity moves to the normal weight category as opposed to the overweight category, according to the study.

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