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Keywords:

  • obesity;
  • health care costs;
  • lost productivity costs

Abstract

Objective: To estimate the costs of health care and lost productivity attributable to overweight and obesity in New Zealand (NZ) in 2006.

Methods: A prevalence-based approach to costing was used in which costs were calculated for all cases of disease in the year 2006. Population attributable fractions (PAFs) were calculated based on the relative risks obtained from large cohort studies and the prevalence of overweight and obesity. For each disease, the PAF was multiplied by the total health care cost. The costs of lost productivity associated with premature mortality were estimated using both the Human Capital approach (HCA) and Friction Cost approach (FCA).

Results: Health care costs attributable to overweight and obesity were estimated to be NZ$686m or 4.5% of New Zealand's total health care expenditure in 2006. The costs of lost productivity using the FCA were estimated to be NZ$98m and NZ$225m using the HCA. The combined costs of health care and lost productivity using the FCA were $784m and $911m using the HCA.

Conclusion: The cost burden of overweight and obesity in NZ is considerable.

Implications: Policies and interventions are urgently needed to reduce the prevalence of obesity thereby decreasing these substantial costs.