How Obesity and Smoking Add $142 Billion to US Health Care Costs Annually

Print Email

Healthways, one source for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, has republished a study that is about a year old. It is worth another look at “Obesity, Smoking Damage U.S. Economy,” which was initially published by Gallup. Its primary conclusion about the cost of obesity and smoking in America is that they add “$142 billion each year in incremental healthcare costs.” On top of that, “the combination of obesity and smoking among U.S. workers causes an estimated $257 billion of lost economic activity each year.”

The presence of smoking and obesity has gone in different directions in the United States. Fewer people smoke. More people are fat.

Gallup put the numbers in simple terms:

Adults who are overweight accumulate about $378 more per person each year in healthcare costs, while those who are obese cost an astonishing $1,580 more per person each year.


Smoking, in turn, is even more costly per person. Adults who smoke accrue, on average, $2,132 more each year in healthcare costs than nonsmokers.

Gallup-Healthways has solutions to what it sees as the obesity and smoking problems, along with other health issues in the United States:

Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
Community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

Unfortunately, too many people like to smoke and eat, and they don’t particularly care how it hurts them financially. The truth is that, ultimately, many people do not care about their health.

I'm interested in the Newsletter