Weight Management Counseling and Support Services
The effects of being inactive and having excess body weight have been widely documented; and now researchers report how it impacts your wallet.
Researchers conducted a study of a cohort of 8,000 health plan members to estimate the proportion of total health care charges associated with physical inactivity, overweight, and obesity among U.S. populations aged 40 years and older.
The average charges per member were $4,928 per year(results are in 1997 dollars)
Charges increased with inactivity. People with low activity levels (defined as getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity 1 to 3 days per week) cost an extra $726 per year than active people (defined as getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity 4 or more days per week). Inactive people (defined as getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity 0 days per week) cost an extra $1,543 per year.
Charges increased with excess weight. People considered to be overweight (having a BMI of 25.0 – 29.9) cost an extra $1,245 per year than those at a healthy weight (having a BMI less than 25.0); obese individuals (having a BMI of 30.0 or greater) cost an extra $2,152 per year.
Charges were higher for women than men.
Charges were higher for people with chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease or diabetes)
Chargers were higher for former smokers than nonsmokers or current smokers. This is because many ex-smokers quit smoking after developing chronic health problems.
Overall, 23.5% of all medical costs were due to inactivity and excess body weight. This means that almost one-quarter of health care expenses can be reduced by improving lifestyle choices related to food and physical activity.
On a national level, researchers estimate 27% of all health care costs are due to inactivity and being overweight. This is based on the prevalence of inactivity and excess weight in the United States population.
Health Claims Based on Activity Level:
(n = 8,000)
Activity Level(days/week) Annual Health Claims
($ per year)
Inactive (0 days) 5783.00
Low Activity (1-3 days) 4966.00
Active (4+ days) 4240.00
Health Claims Based on Body Weight:
Body Weight Status Annual Health Claims
($ per year)
Obese (BMI >30) 6146.00
Overweight (BMI 25.0 – 29.9) 5239.00
Healthy Weight (BMI <25.0) 3994.00
What it Means:
With health care costs increasing, more employers are increasing the costs individuals have to pay for their own health care. If you are not very active or are not at a healthy body weight, you could be paying more for your health care in the future than you need to. However, making simple lifestyle changes can not only improve your quality of life, it can save you money. So find creative ways to move more each day and be mindful of what you eat; your heart and your wallet will thank you!
Source: Anderson, et al. (October 2005).Health Care Charges Associated with Physical Inactivity, Overweight, and Obesity. Preventing Chronic Disease, 3(4).