Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dutch Study Suggests that Obese Patients Cheaper to Treat

A Dutch research study found that perhaps over the long-term smokers or obese patients are less expensive to treat than thin and healthy individuals. Although many have assumed that addressing obesity and smoking would save money, this study suggests otherwise. Researchers believe that obese patients, who had more cases of diabetes, and smokers and diabetics, who had more cases of heart disease, died sooner. Those that were healthy lived longer but suffered from debilitating illnesses like Alzheimer's or strokes which in the long run ended costing more. Findings were as follows:
  • healthy people lived 84 years, cost from age 20 on about $417,000
  • smokers lived about 77 years, cost about $326,000
  • obese people lived about 80 years, cost was $371,000
What does this mean? A couple of caveats. First, the research was done on Dutch data, both on how common various diseases were as well as the cost of illness. These values don't necessarily mean the same result would occur in the United States. Since the Netherlands ranks better than the United States in keeping people healthy, it is likely that even the healthy group doesn't live as long as we would expect. The second caveat is perhaps an intervention needs to be made for those that are thin and healthy to prevent them from having strokes and Alzheimers.

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