The Personal Cost of Obesity: How Much Does It Cost to be Obese?

  • In the United States, four in ten adults are considered obese.1
  • Annual medical costs of obesity – $172.74 billion.2
  • Obese adults spend $7,337 on medical costs annually compared to people with a healthy weight.3

Obesity is a deadly disease that costs Americans over $172.7 billion annually. To put that into perspective, the average overweight adult is likely to spend between $9,000 to $21,000 more per year than a healthy-weight adult. If you take into account the various related costs, obesity is not just a drain on your lifespan – it’s also a drain on your wallet.

The Personal Cost of Obesity

Personal cost of obesity breakdown

Over time, obese adults generally spend more money than healthy adults. These costs are significantly higher in areas such as;

  • Healthcare and medical
  • Fast food and dining
  • Clothes
  • Fad diets and weight loss products
  • Life insurance
  • Health insurance

Medical costs

Medical costs for people with type 2 diabetes are typically 2.3 times more expensive than those without the disease. Individuals with diabetes spend, on average, $9,601 more per year. This single comorbidity, paired with several others related to obesity, can significantly strain any individual’s budget.

Out-of-pocket healthcare

High BMI (body mass index) levels are associated with higher medical expenses such as doctor visits, diagnostic tests, and hospital stays. The number of hospital visits and doctor appointments is substantially higher than healthy individuals. Over 11 million physician visits were requested by obese people in a single year.

free health screening

Weight loss diet programs

The weight loss industry is thriving, with an estimated annual spending of $33 billion in the United States. With obesity rates rising and over 60% of the population overweight, the demand for diet programs is at an all-time high.

“I spent about $1,000 annually on diets that never worked for me” – MBC past bariatric surgery patient Karlee

Grocery and dining costs

With inflating grocery prices and increased restaurant prices in the United States, eating more than the recommended daily calorie intake is another financial strain. Food options are another challenge, as unhealthy and fast foods are typically cheaper and more readily available.

Loss of wages and the indirect costs of obesity

The economic burden of being overweight includes work loss due to illness; and reduced economic productivity from young adults. Weight and other health-related conditions like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and high cholesterol hinder many from working.

Save money by losing weight

Everyone knows how to lose weight. Exercising more, eating smaller portions, and avoiding sugary foods /drinks are just a few weight-reducing musts. However, those steps alone are not enough. For most people, it will take a combination of these three tactics and other tools to help overcome obesity.

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Physical exercise
  • Eating healthier
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Weight management programs

That’s where bariatric surgery comes in. A recent study found that gastric sleeve and gastric bypass procedures can dramatically reduce weight and improve obesity-related health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Weight loss surgery has helped millions of patients with severe obesity get healthier, live longer, and get their lives back on track. Many think that weight loss surgery is only for people with a BMI over 40. However, it can also be used to treat people with BMIs of 30 and above.

The cost of obesity vs. bariatric surgery

Being obese can cost upwards of $21,000 for medical treatments, dieting, and medicine. In Mexico, a weight loss procedure is a one-time payment of $4,595.

Bariatric surgery can reduce overall mortality by 40%, cancer mortality by 52%, and even COVID-19 hospitalization by 49%, and improve the chances that type 2 diabetes will go into remission. By drastically losing weight over the first 18 months after surgery, many patients no longer need obesity-related medications and are cured of health issues like diabetes and heart disease. Surgery also helps patients eat less food and perform more physical activities, allowing them to restart their careers.

This reduced weight has a profound impact on decreasing the spending on direct or indirect costs relating to obesity.


1. State of Obesity 2022: Better Policies for a Healthier American
2. Association of body mass index with health care expenditures in the United States by age and sex
3. Adult Obesity Facts by CDC
4. Economic Costs of Obesity

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