If you suffer from obesity or being overweight, shredding a couple pounds could potentially save you a lot of money. A new study surfaced that discovered that losing weight at any age came with substantially financial bonuses, with people close to 50 years in age saving the most funds, an average of $36,278 over a lifetime.
This new research, is the first to include not only the medical costs connected with being obese and related diseases, but also a decline in work productivity that could be contributed to weight. This helps clarify the real costs of being holding those extra pounds, according to the study.
“People often think of obesity as an insurance issue, and they know that expensive health care problems are associated with it,” stated Bruce Y. Lee, MD, executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “But they rarely think about the full magnitude of its societal and workplace costs.”
To discover these figures, Dr. Lee and his team developed a computer model to signify the U.S. Adult population (18+ years of age), and expected lifetime health effects for people who suffer from obesity, being overweight or healthy weight through the ages of 20 to 80. The model anticipated the health status of these three groups annually, and kept track of medical costs, losses in productivity and sick time they would most likely see due to their weight.
They discovered that, at every age between 20 and 80, going from one weight group to another resulted in a strong difference in cost. A 20-year-old who goes from obese to overweight, for instance, would save an mean of $17,655 over his or her lifetime. If that same person went from obese to a healthy weight, those savings would advance to roughly $28,020.
Middle-age adults had even more to gain: The model suggested that an obese 40-year-old could save between $18,000 and $32,000 over their lifetime by losing enough to be simply overweight or a healthy weight. Cost savings peaked at age 50, with an average total savings of more than $36,000.
The gap in cost between obese and overweight thinned as people got older, so that people between 50 and 80 reaped more of the benefits from moving to the healthy weight group, instead of just moving from obese to overweight. “This emphasizes the importance of weight loss as people get older,” the study authors reported, “for both individuals with obesity and individuals with overweight.”
Dr. Lee also added it was more shocking that these cost savings sustained its significance throughout every 10 years of a person’s life. “Someone might think that if they’re 80 years old and they’ve lived their entire life without losing weight, then maybe it’s not worth trying at that point,” he added. “Our study suggests that if you really want to focus on reducing costs, then it is actually still important.”
Dr. Lee reported that the declines in productivity in the study were derived on median wage—and that if a person earns a higher-than-average salary, they’re more likely to lose even more weight because of obesity-related problems. “You’re essentially forfeiting potential salary, you’re going to the hospital and the doctor’s office, you’re getting too sick to work, or your life is getting cut short,” he quotes.
Dr. Lee’s goals of his research are to help employers realize how important it is to keep their workers’ health a priority. He also looks for it to serve as motivation for people who are aware they need to cut some extra pounds but haven’t found the motivation to do so. “Everyone is interested in trying to save money and maximize what they can do with their salary,” he concluded, “and this study suggests one way they can do that.”