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How much does obesity cost the healthcare system? It differs by state

Nationally, medical expenditures earmarked for obesity and related ailments rose 29 percent from 2001 to 2015.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Because obesity is so widespread in the United States, its negative effects on health are pretty well understood. But obesity also has an economic impact, and it turns out there are some big differences from state to state.

That's according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Chemistry, which used microdata from each state to calculate the percentage of healthcare spending dedicated to obesity.

[Also: Touro medical school program cuts physician bias against obesity, study shows]

On the low end of the spectrum are states like California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona are on the low end of the spectrum. Each devoted about 5 to 6 percent of their total medical expenditures to treating illnesses related to obesity. On the other end are Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina, with each dedicating more than 12 percent of healthcare expenditures toward obesity.

Nationally, medical expenditures earmarked for obesity and related ailments rose 29 percent from 2001 to 2015, from  just over 6 percent to almost 8 percent.

The report also looked at Medicare and Medicaid over that time period and found more stark differences. 

Wisconsin and Kentucky, for instance, devoted more than 20 percent of their Medicaid spending to obesity, compared to 10.9 percent for New York. The national average was 8.23 percent.

The data was pulled primarily from a nationally representative survey of of healthcare utilization and costs, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which contained data for the most populous states. Less populous states were omitted because of a lack of information about their residents.

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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