Overweight and obese people pay thousands more per year than people in a “normal” weight range, and obese women pay thousands more than obese men. The cost of obesity gets a lot worse the more overweight a person is. Obese women pay nine times more than overweight women. Obese men pay six times more than men who are merely overweight.
Overall, according to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Health Policy (US DHP), obese women pay $4,879 more per year than women of “normal” weight for various costs of living, while obese men pay $2,646 more. That means obese women pay about twice the extra costs that obese men pay.
The figures above don’t even include the costs of early death. Putting a value on years lost to death by obesity, the US DHP estimates that obese women pay a total $8,365 extra every year just to stay alive, while obese men dish out $6,518 annually.
Right now, more than 60% of the population of the United States is either overweight or obese, which means “grossly overweight.” If the trend continues, more than half of all Americans will be obese by 2030. With a projected 363 million people living in the country by that time, that means Americans will pay an extra $1.3 trillion a year or more in a virtual “fat tax.”
Below, we’ve listed the additional expenses overweight and obese women and to a lesser extent men have to shell out for.
1. Medical Costs of Obesity
All together, 66% of the cost of being an obese woman comes from excess medical expenses. Meanwhile, fully 88% of all obese men’s extra costs are medical in nature.
The more overweight a person is, the higher the medical costs. Out of pocket, overweight people can expect to spend an extra $346 a year on health care. Meanwhile, moderately obese people will spend $807 a year, while the severely obese shell out $1,566 a year and the morbidly obese pay an extra $2,845 annually. Heart disease, diabetes, in-patient and out-patient care and prescription drugs account for some of these extra costs of being fat.
Also see: 7 Ways Being Poor Can Kill You
2. Psychological Costs of Obesity
There’s a large body of clinical evidence that suggests obesity leads to depression. Obesity can also cause social isolation and poor self esteem. Further, these conditions in turn cause obesity, which can create a downward spiral of more obesity and more depression. While it’s difficult to put a dollar figure on the obesity-related costs of emotional distress, the price of treatment in the form of psychotherapy or antidepressants is just one potential additional expense. Others can include difficulty getting and keeping a well paying job, which could rob an overweight or obese person of thousands or even tens of thousands annually.
3. Lost Wages from Obesity
The hidden cost of obesity from lost wages is a lot bigger for women than for men. Obese women are less likely to be employed in the first place, whether that’s from depression and low self esteem or from society’s prejudices making it harder for them to find a job. Even when they find a job, obese and overweight women are a lot less likely to earn a fair wage than men.
Obese men will lose on average just $75 per year in wages. Obese women can expect to earn $1,855 less every year than their non-obese counterparts. That amounts to a 6% wage cut for a typical American working woman, just for having excess weight.
Obese workers also lose wages every year to decreased productivity, disability and absenteeism.
Absenteeism is one area where the overweight gender gap stands out. Overweight and even obese men don’t tend to lose wages to excess absenteeism, while even moderately overweight females do. Even severely obese men only lose $730 a year to calling in sick to work, while females with the same level of obesity lose $1,063 per year.
4. The Cost of Dying Early from Obesity
Another cost of obesity comes from years of lost life. Here again, the cost is higher depending on exactly how overweight a person is. This cost is generally higher for men, since men are more likely to die of obesity than women. Generally speaking, a morbidly obese man will die 5.2 years earlier than a man with normal weight. A morbidly obese woman will die 4.3 years younger.
Interestingly, both men and women who are merely overweight aren’t any more likely to die earlier than those of normal weight. However, the more pounds, the less the lifespan. Placing a dollar value of $50,000 on each year of life, the U.S. DHP found that a morbidly obese man will pay almost an extra $10,000 a year in terms of lost years of life, while the cost for a morbidly obese woman is about $8,000 per year.
Also see: 3 Ways Being Poor Makes You Fat
5. Life Insurance
This year, overweight people will spend an estimated $14 more each on life insurance. Obese people will spend an extra $111. The cost of life insurance premiums is based on life expectancy. Since actuaries can pick on only a few factors that are proven to decrease life expectancy, such as the age a person’s parents died, smoking and overweight/obesity, overweight and obese people end up paying more.
In 2014, Old Navy defended its practice of charging more for plus-sized clothing for women, but not for men. The store claimed its female customers were demanding and paying for added “slimming” design features that men’s clothing lacks.
Plus sized jeans for women were found to cost $10 to $15 more than regular sized jeans for women. Meanwhile, men’s jeans cost the same no matter what size they were.
Old Navy is apparently not the only offender. A 2010 study by research group McKinsey & Company found that clothing for overweight and obese people costs an extra $30 billion per year.
Some airlines, such as Delta, Northwest and Southwest Air force overweight passengers to buy a second seat. The rule comes into effect if passengers can’t lower both armrests or if they need an extender in order to safely fasten their seat belt. United, Jet Blue and Air France are also reported to have extra seat policies that can cost overweight passengers more. One option for squeezed passengers is to upgrade to first class, where the seats are wider.
On average, an overweight woman spends an extra $8 on gas per year than a woman of normal weight. A moderately obese woman spends $16 more and a morbidly obese woman spends $30 more. The extra gas cost of being overweight comes from a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Health Policy.
Overweight people spend an extra $90 billion a year on food, according to a 2010 study by McKinsey & Company. The fat cells associated with being overweight or obese increase the appetite and require extra calories. Overweight people therefore tend to eat more, which in turn leads to extra weight gain.
10. Diets and Weight Loss Supplements
Obese and overweight people part with a total of $20 billion annually for supplements and diet programs. Programs like Weight Watchers and JennyCraig can cost hundreds or even thousands each year. A single 30 day supply of the popular weight loss supplement Garcina Cambogia costs $22 online through Google Shopping. It’s not hard to see why the weight loss industry is a $20 billion dollar a year industry.
Depression and Obesity – EveryDayHealth.com
The Individual Costs of Being Overweight and Obese in the United States – U.S. Department of Health Policy
Why Governments Must Lead the Fight Against Obesity – McKinsey & Company