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Why losing weight will inevitably save you money

A common excuse for delaying weight loss is that healthy eating is simply too expensive. After all, gym memberships cost money, and cheaper food options tend to be higher in sugar and calories. But now, a new study has calculated the cost savings of weight loss, and found that shedding pounds saves a significant amount of money over time.

The study was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and published in the journal Obesity.

Not only do the many health risks linked to a high body mass index (BMI), such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, increase medical bills over time, but productivity loss in the workplace is also extremely costly.

“Over half the costs of being overweight can be from productivity losses, mainly due to missed work days, but also productivity losses. This means that just focusing on medical costs misses a big part of the picture, though they’re a consideration, too,” said Bruce Y. Lee, the executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at the Bloomberg School.

Missing work due to a medical issue affects the entire workplace, putting more work on fellow employees and contributing to the “societal” costs of obesity.

The study found that by losing weight, the savings could be immense. A 20-year-old who goes from obese to just overweight could save an average of $17,655 in medical costs and productivity losses alone.

Those numbers only increase if a normal weight is achieved, and the cost savings peak at around age 50, the researchers noted.

For the study, the researchers created a computer simulation to model the lifetime costs associated with obesity in US adults ages 20 through 80. They used data from several studies and made sure to factor in a wide range of health statuses.

“In our study, the model we developed takes into account a range of immediate health complications associated with body weight, like hypertension or diabetes, as well as all major long-term adverse health outcomes, including heart disease and some types of cancer, in forecasting the incremental health effects and costs to give a realistic calculation,” said Saeideh Fallah-Fini, a research team member on the study.

The study has many positive implications, particularly because it has such a broad representation of the mitigating costs associated with obesity throughout a person’s life, rather than focusing on one health risk or one age group.

The researchers hope that this study will help provide better treatments and interventions, give obese patients a more accurate understanding of the costly ramifications associated with higher BMI, and improve workplace productivity.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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