Report: Obesity in elderly may raise healthcare costs

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Treating medical conditions related to obesity in seniors could account for 20% of healthcare dollars spent by 2020, according to a study in Health Affairs. The study found a 44% increase in healthcare costs among moderately and severely obese individuals ages 50 to 69 compared with those of normal weight.

Researchers from Rand and elsewhere examined data from the Health and Retirement Study and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, concentrating on people ages 50 to 69.

Disability rates will increase by 1% per year in this age range based on current obesity trends, the study found. Severely obese people have about twice as many chronic medical conditions, the study said.

The study defined moderate obesity as a body mass index of between 30 and 35 and severe obesity as a BMI of 35 or higher.