Obesity comes with a Hefty Price Tag

Many people would argue that living a healthy lifestyle is much more expensive than living an unhealthy one, but have you ever really sat down and crunched the numbers?

Yes, it does cost more to eat healthy and it does cost to visit the doctor and maintain a gym membership, but when you compare these costs to the cash you shell out and actually lose, when you are sick or overweight, the healthy side of things starts to look a whole lot brighter.

Individuals who choose an unhealthy lifestyle will spend an average of $365,000 on food over the course their life expectancy of 80 years, while a healthy individual will spend an average of $400,000 on food over the course of their 84-years of life expectancy.

Seems expensive for that additional four years of life, but the cost of being chronically ill or obese can tally much higher than $35,000 dollars – making the case for talking to a preventive health specialist all the more appealing. Especially as the world makes changes to accommodate an overweight and ill population— like additional charges for airplane seats for those who exceed a specified weight limit— a healthy way of life becomes less expensive.

“As an ER doctor, I have treated many patients for conditions and illnesses that could have been prevented. I transitioned to preventive medicine because I wanted to help people discover how much better life can be when you manage your weight, monitor disease risk and preserve health.” – Joseph Mazzei, D.O. of BodyLogicMD of Chicago

If $400,000 in a lifetime sounds like a lot of money to spend on food, and “boring,” healthy food at that, you should consider how much more it costs to live an unhealthy lifestyle—your pocketbook suffers immense consequences – making preventive health a truly valuable savings plan.

In some states, the average direct healthcare costs associated with obesity are as high as $479 per person per year– multiply that times 80 years and you more than make up the difference in the costs of eating healthy for 84 years. Even more intriguing is that the Campaign for a Healthier America reports that $3 out of every $4 spent on health care goes toward treating Americans with chronic disease– that is $7,900 per person– obese or not.

Take out the costs associated with healthcare and you may be even more astounded to learn that being overweight (a body mass index, or BMI, of greater than 25) or obese (a BMI of greater than 30) costs the average woman up to $4,879 per year and the average man up to $2,646 per year. The differences between the sexes are vast, especially when it comes to income – women lose thousands of dollars due to excess pounds while men do not. Overweight and obese women get paid an average of $1,878 less per year than their slimmer co-workers.

Statistically, overweight and obese individuals take more sick days, pay more for clothing, have higher fuel costs and pay more for travel (see below for details.) These numbers stock serious value in the investment of a long-term, preventive health plan—if you are a woman, you will save an average of $409,836 in your lifetime—think of what you could do with all that money – and good health.


  •  Chronic illness costs an average of $7,900 per person
  • Overweight and obese women lose an average of $1,855 in salary each year
  • Sick days cost the overweight and obese between $106 and $674 per year
  • Plus-size clothing costs up to $7 more per item
  • Extra weight will cost you up to $36 more for gas each year—toting more weight uses more gas
  • Obesity costs as much as $479 per person in some states
  • Coming soon– extra pounds means purchasing extra airline seats


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