The Business of Obesity

May 24, 2013     No Comments    Posted under: Health, Infographics

The Business of Obesity

Obesity is a major drain on America’s bottom line, with impact on medical, personal, and infrastructure costs. However, some industries are benefiting from the increasing size of the average American consumer.

Obesity in America

– Over 2/3 of Americans over 20 are overweight (BMI over 25.)
– By state, obesity prevalance in the U.S. ranges from 21% in Colorado (lowest) to 34% in Mississippi (highest.) (2010)
– The USA has the 2nd highest obesity rate in the world (after Mexico.) (2010)

Unexpected Costs of Obesity

– According to a 2010 estimate, obesity-related medical care in America costs $160 billion per year.
– The estimated indirect cost of obesity in America is $450 billion per year (2011.) These costs are divided into:
1) Incremental food costs, plus sized clothing, and weight loss – $140 billion
2) Medical cost for medication, surgeries, and doctor visits – $160 billion
3) Absenteeism, decreased productivity, and short term disability – $130 billion
4) Increased fuel, electricity and other – $20 billion

Individual Costs

– Taking into count things like lost life, lost wages, gasoline costs, and life insurance obese men spend $2646 extra per year, obese women $4879 per year, overweight women $524 per year, and overweight men $432 per year.
– Obese men and women are paid less than their professional healthier counterparts. As of 2008, about $3.41 per hour less than healthier peers, which is partially attributed to higher health insurance premiums. Obese women are particularly affected, earning 11% less than their healthy counterparts (2012.)


– Americans consumer 938 million extra gallons of gas/year due to increased passenger weight (2006 estimate.) This is $4 billion in obesity related gasoline costs.
– In 2000, airlines used an estimated 350 million additional gallons of fuel to handle weight increases. Airline passengers gained 10 lbs on average between 1990 and 2000.
– Commuter trains in New York are consindering a maximum seat capacity of 400 lbs (2012.)
– Seats are being widened by 2.2 inches on New Jersey Transit.


– Hospitals are investing in equipment to handle heavier patients, including plus sized wheelchairs, mini-cranes, new MRI and CT imaging equipment (standard machines can’t handle patients who weigh more than 350 lbs – forcing hospitals to spend over $1.5 million open MRI scanners that can hold up to 550 lbs.)
– Gastric bypass surgeries have skyrocketed, from 13,386 in 1998 to 220,000 in 2008.

Business Opportunities

– Clothing: Plus sized women’s clothing stores are set to bring in more than $7.5 billion in 2012, a 5.6% increase. The average size in American women’s clothing is a 14.
– Weight loss: An estimated 72 million Americans are on a diet, making dieting a $61 billion industry (2011.) This is up from $40 billion spent in 2008.

The Business of Obesity
Source: Top Nursing Programs

Future Implications

– 86% of Americans are expected to be overweight by 2030, with 42% obese. Almost 70.1% of Americans are considered overweight in 2012.
– If current trends continue, the market for plus size clothing, weight management products, and accomodating household goods is bound to rapidly increase as well.




Author: nKlik Inc.

Founder of Pick Analysis. He likes to surf around the web and explore contents related to his interest. You can follow his Social Network accounts at Twitter and .