Obesity has turned into a billion dollar pandemic. According to a Cornell University study published in the Journal of Health Economics, the cost for obesity has been as high as $190 billion annually with no decrease in sight. Yet, beyond the obvious costs (medical bills for obesity-related conditions, for one), what about the “hidden costs” of obesity — the money that comes out of the pockets of overweight or obese individuals who might not even be aware of the money pit they’ve fallen into? Here are some examples of some “hidden costs” that can result from obesity:
More Food: It may be a simple concept, but the more you want to eat, the more food you have to buy. Even though the grocery store is where you most likely do most of your food shopping, hidden costs can come from other places — fast food, for example. Although a burger at a fast food joint may seem affordable at just a dollar or two, the amount you spend throughout the year at a drive-thru can add up quick and increase with additional eating occasions.
Bigger Clothes: More times than not, the higher the clothing size, the more expensive the clothes will be. One reason for this is that the cost of clothing rises due to the increased amount of materials needed to make it. In other words, the more the clothes cost to manufacture, the more the consumer ends up paying at the register.
Transportation: You’d be surprised how weight affects the cost of transportation. Take airplanes for instance. In 2004, a report was published that stated that, due to the increase weight of passengers, airlines used an extra 350 gallons of jet fuel from 1990-2000. The number has since increased. Make no mistake: These additional costs are passed along to the consumer in the price of the plane tickets. And, there’s also the possibility of having to purchase a second ticket for seating depending on the policy of the airline and the passenger’s size and weight.
Work: Obesity is often accompanied by other health issues that need to be tended to and treated by a medical professional. Obesity-related illnesses contribute to absenteeism and reduced productivity, creating increased healthcare costs and negatively affecting a company’s bottom line.
These are just a few examples of the hidden costs that can come from obesity. However, just like the disease of obesity, hidden costs can be identified, controlled and reversed. It just takes a conscious effort.