With news through from FMCG New Zealand today that obesity in the USA costs nearly $170 billion per year, there is grave concern the same rises can occur within NZ healthcare.

New research from the United States Bureau of Economic Research has estimated the annual healthcare cost of obesity in the US as US$168 billion a year. This is 13% higher than the result of the last study by the US Institute of Medicine.

“This paper makes an important contribution by providing the first estimates of the causal impact of obesity on medical care costs, which are significantly higher than the estimates of the association that are published in the previous literature, and thus have important implications for insurance, government policy, and estimates of the cost-effectiveness of anti-obesity interventions,” the authors say in their summary.

The cost is equivalent to 17% of total US medical care expenditure, and includes the increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis and asthma as well as other conditions.

Evidence of increased medical costs as a result of obesity is expected to have an impact on government policy towards food and health regulations in Australia and New Zealand.

• Ref: Cawley, John and Meyerhoefer, Chad, The Medical Care Costs of Obesity: An Instrumental Variables Approach, http://www.nber.org/papers/w16467

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