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The real cost of overweight

Can you afford not to lose weight?

Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. In 2010, WHO reported 1.6 billion people globally. And if that isn't disturbing enough, recent research reveals that those extra pounds may be as heavy a burden on the wallet as they are on the waistline.

The per-pound cost of overweight
According to Humana, each pound over our ideal weight carries an average annual cost of $19.39. At age 25, it costs about $10.25 per pound per year to be overweight. As we age, however, the cost per pound goes up, averaging $26.32 a year for 64-year-olds.

What does that look like over a lifetime? Humana reports that an obese person will spend an average of $179,000 more in healthcare costs than a normal-weight individual.

Why overweight costs so much
Being overweight costs so much because it's associated with some pretty costly health conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes — which are all associated with obesity — are some of the most prevalent, costly and preventable of chronic diseases. At a combined cost of $792.1 billion, they account for nearly a third of the total annual healthcare spend in the U.S.

Disease Risk Cost
Heart disease The leading cause of death $316.4 billion
Cancer Second leading cause of death $228 billion
Stroke Third leading cause of death $73.7 billion
Diabetes Seventh leading cause of death $174 billion
Total $792.1 billion

What can you do about it?
Fortunately, radical change isn’t necessary to start winning the war against overweight. Every small lifestyle change adds up. Where can you start? For example:

  • At McDonalds, you could save 270 calories by ordering small fries instead of large, and another 100 calories by ordering the Double Cheeseburger rather than the Big Mac®. That's 370 calories saved in one meal.
  • According to Starbucks, you can save as much as 250 calories by asking for your favorite drink with nonfat milk, sugar-free syrup and no whipped cream. Or just order one size smaller.

For more information about ways to lose weight and inspiration for the process, visit GuideStone's wellness website.


GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention welcomes the opportunity to share this general information. However, this article is not intended to be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.