CHOICES Study Finds That Excess Body Weight is Associated with Higher Health Care Costs in the U.S

A new study from CHOICES, “Association of body mass index with health care expenditures in the United States by age and sex,” was published today in PLOS ONE.


This study, led by Zach Ward, analyzed data from 175,726 people collected in a survey on health care costs from 2011 to 2016. The analysis found that, over 30 units of BMI, every BMI increase of one unit was associated with a boost in annual health care costs of $253 per adult (in 2019 US dollars). The lowest costs were associated with a BMI of 20.5 for women and 23.5 for men. While obesity was associated with an overall increase in annual costs of $1,861 per adult, in children obesity was associated with an overall increase in annual costs of $116 per child. Adult obesity was associated with a total of $170 billion in excess costs per year in the U.S. These findings emphasize the need to promote healthy weight for people of all ages and across the BMI scale, and could help inform policies and programs to address obesity. Future studies could help refine these estimates and incorporate indirect costs of obesity, such as lost wages due to disability.

To learn more, read the abstract and the full text of this paper.

Association of body mass index with health care expenditures in the United States by age and sex
Ward ZJ, Bleich SN, Long MW, Gortmaker SL. PLOS ONE. 2021 Mar;16(3): e0247307. doi10.1371/journal.pone.0247307.