Economists: Obesity costs billions


The medical costs of obesity are estimated to be $147 billion a year, economists at RTI International announced today.

The findings update 1998 estimates, which put a $78.5 billion tab on hospitalizations, doctor visits and pills to treat the complications of obesity. Since then, obesity rates have risen 37 percent.

"The connection between rising rates of obesity and rising medical spending is undeniable," the study's authors state in the report. "The take-home message is that without a strong and sustained reduction in obesity prevalence, obesity will continue to impose major costs on the health system for the foreseeable future."

The report, issued two days before President Barack Obama visits the Triangle to press his message for health care reform, suggests that "policy and environmental changes" are necessary to help people eat healthier and get more exercise.

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