A Snapshot of Obesity-Related Costs

By one estimate, the health care costs of obesity are responsible for nearly 21 percent of total health care spending in the U.S. (1) Countries with lower obesity rates than the U.S. spend a smaller share of their healthcare dollars on obesity, but the burden is still sizable. (2)

Table: A Snapshot of Obesity-Related Costs (1,2)
Country Obesity-Related Costs
(% of total spending on health care)
Publication Year
Brazil 3.0–5.8 2007
China 3.4 2008
Canada 2.9 2001
France 0.7–1.5 2000
Japan 3.2 2007
Sweden 2.3 2005
U.S. 20.6 2012


1. Cawley J, Meyerhoefer C. The medical care costs of obesity: an instrumental variables approach. J Health Econ. 2012; 31:219-30.

2. Withrow D, Alter DA. The economic burden of obesity worldwide: a systematic review of the direct costs of obesity. Obes Rev. 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2009.00712.x.

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