For adults who are overweight obese, lose weight at any age not only can improve health, but also can help save cost. And the cost saving peak is around age 50.
These are the findings from a new study published in Obesity. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University conduct the research.
The research team found that a 20-year-old person who goes from being obese to overweight would save an average of $17,655 in direct medical costs and productivity losses over his/her lifetime.
If the same person goes from being obese to normal weight, the cost saving would be $28,020 in direct medical costs and productivity losses over the life time.
Similarly, a 40-year-old person who goes from being obese to overweight would save an average of $18,262 in direct medical costs and productivity losses over the lifetime.
And if the person goes from being obese to healthy weight, the cost saving would be $31,447 in direct medical costs and productivity losses over the life time.
Currently, about 70% of adults in the US are overweight or obese (based on their body mass index, BMI). This leads to about $219 billion direct medical costs every year.
The researchers suggest that direct medical expenses are only part of the picture.
Overweight and obesity also cause productivity losses, which means an overweight or obese person can be less productive in work compared to a person with normal weight. This is may be due to obesity-related diseases, fatigue, or injury.
Productivity losses affect businesses, which in turn affects the economy, which then affects everyone.
When overweight and obese people become less productive, other people have to take on a larger workload. This may add to social costs of obesity.
In the study, the researchers found that cost savings peak at age 50 with an average total savings of $36,278. This finding is important because people aged 50 and older make up about 60% of social costs.
The researchers hope the findings can help policymakers design more effective interventions tailored to specific group. Obesity is a public health issue, and the society should provide more support for people who need help.