Why obesity is bad for your wallet

By Lacie Glover More than a third of Americans are currently obese, and the rate among Hispanics is even higher at 42.5%. Whether or not we’re…

Obesity is bad for your wallet. (Shutterstock)

By Lacie Glover

More than a third of Americans are currently obese, and the rate among Hispanics is even higher at 42.5%. Whether or not we’re carrying them, those extra pounds are costing all of us a lot of money—about $190 billion annually on obesity-related.

SEE ALSO: New study highlights increasing childhood obesity in Brazil

Although getting and staying healthy may seem costly at first, that’s not necessarily the case. There may be small, up-front investments in a healthy lifestyle, like purchasing workout clothes or equipment, but in the long run staying at a healthy weight can save you money.

Obese people take more sick days

Research shows that both eating well and getting regular, moderate exercise are beneficial to immunity. This is especially true for people who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables each day—a habit obese people tend to lack.

The result is that, over the course of a year, obese people take 2-5 more days off work than do those at a healthy weight. For some this means less take-home pay and lost productivity, while for others this means missing out on opportunities for promotions or interviews.

Whatever the loss means for you individually, it could add up over the course of your career, especially if you are a woman. Studies have shown that higher-income women are statistically less likely to be obese.

Obese people spend more for insurance

health costs for obesity

Lifetime health costs for obesity are similar to those for smokers.. (Shutterstock)

If your employer offers an employee-wellness program for weight loss and an obese employee refuses to participate, the company can require that employee to pay a higher percentage of his or her

Life insurance companies also adjust for weight, since an obese person is considered a health risk. Many policy providers simply have a weight cutoff, relative to height and tiered to charge different amounts for overweight and obese individuals.

For example, a person who is overweight may pay $14 extra per year for a standard policy, and an obese person with the same policy may pay $111 more per year than a healthy-weight individual.

Obese people spend more on medical care

Whether due to low immunity or ailments directly caused by obesity, the obese population spends more on health care annually. How much more do they spend? For obese men the figure is $1,152 per year, but for women it’s more than double that—about $3,613 per year. For those who happen to be without health insurance, the number is even higher. In all, obesity accounts for an estimated 21% of health care costs.

These costs come mostly in the form of more prescriptions and more visits to the doctor for diseases like Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol or blood pressure, all of which can be reversed with weight loss. Research suggests that per-person lifetime health costs for obesity are similar to those for smokers.

Lacie Glover writes for NerdWallet Health, a website that empowers consumers to find high quality, affordable health care and insurance.

SEE ALSOThe mysteries behind minority obesity disparities