News

CHRT Report Shows Health Care Costs of Obesity Surge For Severely Obese

January 27, 2014 | Publication

The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT) today released a cost analysis showing that those who are severely obese(1)Severely obese defined as BMI of 35 kg/m2 or greater. have a significantly higher health burden and health costs than those who are moderately obese(2)Moderately obese defined as BMI of 30 – 34.9 kg/m2., an indication that intervention efforts focused on the severely obese are particularly important.

The issue brief, titled “Obesity in Michigan: Impact and Opportunity,” reviewed rates of moderate and severe obesity among 29,691 adults covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and found that the severely obese, compared to the moderately obese:

  • Had 50 percent higher annual health costs
  • Were 1.25 – 3 times more likely to have a serious chronic condition
  • Were twice as likely to have a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes
  • Were 50 percent more likely to have multiple chronic or serious health conditions

Even though costs and disease burden are highest for severe obesity, moderate obesity is still an area for concern. Compared to those with a healthy weight, the moderately obese:

  • Had 27 percent higher annual health costs
  • Were 2 – 3 times more likely to have multiple chronic or serious health conditions

“While it is important to focus on all of those who are above a healthy weight, this analysis points to the need for a focused effort on the severely obese population in particular,” says Marianne Udow-Phillips, CHRT director. “If Michigan health insurers, practitioners, businesses and the Department of Community Health are going to invest in reducing obesity, a targeted effort on the severely obese may have the biggest impact.”

The study found that those who are severely obese report being highly motivated to reduce their weight. In an analysis of medical literature, this study reported that two types of interventions are supported by the research as effective at reducing obesity: bariatric surgery and intensive behavioral therapy.

“It appears that sustainable weight reduction for the severely obese is achievable through effective, evidence-based treatments,” says Udow-Phillips. “By focusing efforts on proven interventions for this targeted population, we can improve their health while reducing health care costs.”

For more information, see “Obesity in Michigan: Impact and Opportunity” at chrt.test.

References

1 Severely obese defined as BMI of 35 kg/m2 or greater.
2 Moderately obese defined as BMI of 30 – 34.9 kg/m2.