Health Expenditures and Obesity

So I dropped my laptop 2 weeks ago and the internet connection has been off and on, dying completely yesterday. Until I either fix it or get a new one, posts will be limited to what I can type on my phone without getting aggravated.

This week I came across a post by Random Critical Analysis analyzing the fairly famous “US spends more on healthcare and has lower life expectancy” graphs. As part of this analysis, he graphs life expectancy vs obesity and shows that the US is very well in line with other developed countries given our above average obesity rate.

To further the point, he breaks down the states individually and shows that this holds within our countries as well:

In other words, low obesity Colorado has a life expectancy in with the other developed countries, while higher obesity states are much lower. He also redid the analysis by splitting other countries up in to regions, and found this pattern holds for other countries as well. The post then goes on to build the causal chain, and it’s pretty fascinating. It even throws in maternal mortality, and shows that if we adjust for BMI, we’re right on par there as well.

I obviously suggest reading the whole post, but it’s a good reminder that this factor has been under discussed in the conversation about healthcare. We often say “other countries have figured out how to deliver healthcare more effectively than we have”, but no country has figured out how to do that with a population as obese as ours. In other words, it seems that unless we really start finding some good ways of preventing obesity or facilitating weight loss, it may be hard to ever reduce our costs. Sobering thought.

6 thoughts on “Health Expenditures and Obesity

  1. A tie in article to this important post:
    “1 in 5 adolescents and 1 in 4 young adults now living with prediabetes”
    “The percentage of adolescents and young adults living with prediabetes was higher in males and participants with obesity.”  

    In addition, the link of obesity and Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease(NAFLD) is significant. And a portion of patients with NAFLD progress to cirrhosis and a portion of these patients progress to Liver cancer.(hepatoma).


  2. The U.S. will continue to have a declining life expectancy as it’s diversity (“diversity is our strength”) grows. The life span of most Americans of European descent is actually higher than their European origins. The problem is that many of the minorities have taken to “offing” each other between the ages of 14-30 something. God knows that shooting people at a young age screws up the averages. But apparently headline writers have no clue as to cause and effect.


    • I think minority health, especially African-American, is a part of the equation, but I don’t think it can be shown that the homicide rate is very much of that. Obesity is more common, and that may be the larger factor.

      Given their high starch content, school meal programs may be less helpful to poor people than we think. Obviously, fed is better than hungry, but the holdover beliefs from the destructive “food pyramid” most of us grew up on undercut the value.


  3. Thanks for posting this. I will take some time to do some data-crunching myself. Offhand, it looks like an important analysis to have in the toolbox.


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