Medical costs of childhood obesity in US estimated at US$14b
A US-based study by the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore and the Duke Health Institute, says that childhood obesity cost US$19,000 over the child's lifetime.
When this is multiplied by the number of obese 10-year-olds in the US for example, the lifetime medical costs for this age alone reach roughly US$14 billion.
An alternative estimate, which takes into account the possibility of normal weight children gaining weight in adulthood, reduces the cost to US$12,900 per obese child.
The findings were made available online in the journal Pediatrics.
Lead Author, Eric Andrew, says the findings show that reducing childhood obesity is a public health priority that has substantial health and economic benefits.
The researchers noted that their study measures direct medical costs for obesity, such as doctors' visits and medication.
It does not take into account indirect costs, including absenteeism and lost productivity in working adults.
Roughly one in three adults and one in five children in the United States are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One in nine Singaporean adults were obese in 2010.
The prevalence of childhood obesity in Singapore has increased over the past few decades and currently stands at one in 10 children.
Obesity is a known risk factor for a wide range of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
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