Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Childhood Obesity Adds Nearly $20K to Lifetime Medical Costs: Study

Childhood Obesity Adds Nearly $20K to Lifetime Medical Costs: Study

MONDAY, April 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Over a lifetime, direct medical costs for an obese 10-year-old will be nearly $20,000 higher than those of slimmer peers, according to new research.

That translates to a whopping $14 billion in additional direct U.S. medical costs over a lifetime for today's obese 10-year-olds, according to the study.

And, those costs only include direct medical costs, such as medications or medical procedures related to obesity. They don't include indirect costs, such as lost productivity and quality-of-life issues, the researchers said.

"Our findings show that the estimated direct medical costs incurred by the obese 10-year-old over his lifetime will be roughly $19,000 higher than that of a child who is normal weight, assuming that both children remain in their respective weight categories," said Wan Chen Kang Graham, a study co-author.

"When we account for the reality that a large proportion of normal-weight 10-year-olds will eventually become obese in adulthood, the difference in lifetime medical costs shrinks to $12,660," added Graham, a Ph.D. student at the Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School.

Currently, about 20 percent of U.S. children are obese, according to background information in the study. If those children remain obese into adulthood, they'll face higher risks of obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea and arthritis. Obesity is also a major cause of disability, lower productivity and higher medical costs, the study authors noted.

For the new analysis, the researchers reviewed available medical literature and found six studies that included obese children and estimates of their lifetime medical costs. Graham said that direct medical costs included "the costs of prescription medications, medical treatments, in- and outpatient care and surgical care."

The investigators found estimates of direct lifetime medical costs ranging from $16,310 to $39,080 higher for obese youngsters than for those of normal weight.

When the researchers adjusted the data to account for the very real possibility of many of the currently normal-weight children becoming obese as adults, the difference in direct medical costs over a lifetime dropped to between $12,660 and $19,630, according to the study.

Graham said these numbers could change if children are able to lose weight and keep it off.

"The magnitude of the direct costs that can be eliminated depends on how long we can keep that child in the normal-weight category over his lifetime," Graham explained.

Dr. Ruby Roy, a chronic disease physician at LaRabida Children's Hospital in Chicago, said data from this type of study "is helpful for insurance companies and policymakers. If we could save $19,000 on each child by paying for nutrition education, overhauling school menus and bringing gym back to all schools, you could see that those are good investments."

Study co-author Graham noted, "Helping children form lifelong habits of healthy eating and regular exercise from an early age is one of the best investments that parents can make in their children's future."

But, Roy also pointed out, "We didn't see this kind of obesity 25 years ago. It's not only about personal and family responsibility. Society needs to change, and we need to change multiple things. We need to work on safety and providing safe places to exercise, portion sizes need to come down and we have to take care of 'food deserts' [places where it's difficult to find fresh, healthy food] among other things."

Results of the study were released online April 7 and in the May print issue of Pediatrics.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advice on helping your child maintain a healthy weight.

SOURCES: Wan Chen Kang Graham, Ph.D. student, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore; Ruby Roy, M.D., chronic disease physician, LaRabida Children's Hospital, Chicago; May 2014, Pediatrics

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Dr. Ayanna Butler-Cephas
Dr. Eric Gyuricsko
Dr. Kent Reifschneider
Dr. Reuben Rohn
Dr. Melissa Russell
Dr. Marta Satin-Smith
Health Tips
A Chubby Baby Is Not a Sign of Obesity
Abuse of Prescription ADHD Drugs Rising on College Campuses
Cool Tools to Keep Your Kids From Smoking
Do Parents Influence Their Kids’ Health Behaviors?
Guidelines for Raising Smoke-Free Kids
Helping Kids Get Over their Fears
How Old Is 'Old Enough' for Contacts?
Lifestyle Changes Can Help Kids Avoid Type 2 Diabetes
Parents-to-Be Must Communicate
Preparing Your Daughter for Changes
Reading to Kids Helps Their Development
Someone's in the Kitchen with Grandma
Talk With Your Kids About These Issues
Talking about Sex with Your Teen
Teens and Talk: What's a Parent to Do?
We Can Head Off Teen Tragedies
When to Call the Doctor for Childhood Illnesses
3 Ways to Better Control Your Diabetes
Diabetes Rates Have Nearly Doubled
Good Blood Sugar Control Vital for Wound Healing
Job Stress May Raise Your Risk for Diabetes
Obesity and Falls: A Risk Factor for Older Adults
Diseases & Conditions
Adolescents and Diabetes Mellitus
AIDS/HIV in Children
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma in Children Index
Bone Marrow Transplantation in Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Diabetes and Pregnancy
Diet and Diabetes
Diphtheria in Children
Ewing Sarcoma
Hepatitis B (HBV) in Children
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Meningitis in Children
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Muscular Dystrophy
Myasthenia Gravis in Children
Obesity in Adolescents
Online Resources - Diabetes and Other Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders
Osteosarcoma in Children
Overview of Diabetes Mellitus
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Poliomyelitis (Polio) in Children
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children
Pregnancy and Medical Conditions
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries Overview
Television and Children
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Vision Overview
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Your Child's Asthma
Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.