State-Level Estimates of Annual Medical Expenditures Attributable to Obesity


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Objective: To provide state-level estimates of total, Medicare, and Medicaid obesity-attributable medical expenditures.

Research Methods and Procedures: We developed an econometric model that predicts medical expenditures. We used this model and state-representative data to quantify obesity-attributable medical expenditures.

Results: Annual U.S. obesity-attributable medical expenditures are estimated at $75 billion in 2003 dollars, and approximately one-half of these expenditures are financed by Medicare and Medicaid. State-level estimates range from $87 million (Wyoming) to $7.7 billion (California). Obesity-attributable Medicare estimates range from $15 million (Wyoming) to $1.7 billion (California), and Medicaid estimates range from $23 million (Wyoming) to $3.5 billion (New York).

Discussion: These estimates of obesity-attributable medical expenditures present the best available information concerning the economic impact of obesity at the state level. Policy makers should consider these estimates, along with other factors, in determining how best to allocate scarce public health resources. However, because they are associated with large SE, these estimates should not be used to make comparisons across states or among payers within states.