Flickr/John Loo

Health

ICYMI: Obesity is expensive. A study released this week by the Milken Institute estimates obesity costs the United States a whopping $1.4 trillion per year, or about 8.2 percent of the GDP. The report, “Weighing Down America: The Health and Economic Impact of Obesity,” measures the direct and indirect costs of obesity, and the result is double the defense budget.

For people with a BMI of 40 or higher, a 5 percent reduction in weight would save up to about $2,000 per person per year in medical expenses.

Direct costs include diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension, while indirect costs are measured in missed days of work and lack of productivity during the work day due to chronic disease.

It’s expensive, yeah. But the conclusions section of the study indicates that incremental improvements can really pay off: for people with a BMI of 40 or higher, a 5 percent reduction in weight would save up to about $2,000 per person per year in medical expenses.

Meanwhile, Trump’s pick for U.S. health secretary Tom Price has pushed to repeal the Public Health and Prevention Fund and voted against a bill that mandated funding for the National Institutes of Health, which may mean we’ll have to wait until 2020 to step up prevention measures for chronic disease.

H. Claire Brown

Claire Brown is a staff writer for The New Food Economy focusing on food policy and the environment. Her reporting has won awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York and the New York Press Club. She is based in Brooklyn. She can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @hclaire_brown.

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