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The Cost of Obesity


No one wakes up one morning 100 pounds heavier than the night before. It’s a gradual gain that usually goes unnoticed until you find yourself unable to fasten that button on your fat jeans. Many folks will argue that it’s too expensive to eat healthy and they can’t afford a gym membership. I’d like to counter that argument with a few statistics on the cost of procedures that are often obesity-related. You tell me what’s more costly…

Total hip replacement
Average cost: $51,594
Range: ($38,612 – $86,716)

Total knee replacement
Average cost:  $46,679
Range: ($24,482 – $81,549)

Right Heart Catheterization
Procedure where a fine hollow tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery, usually through the groin area, passing it to the heart. It is used with x-ray images (angiography) to visualize the heart and blood vessels to diagnose and treat heart disease.

Average cost: $11,020
Range: ($10,024 – $12,296)

Left Heart Catheterization
Average cost: $11,384
Range: ($6,240 – $48,178)

The hospital I work for has an entire floor dedicated for patients going through rehab after a hip or knee replacement. I can confidently say that I have not yet seen one patient who wasn’t overweight or obese. There are a few common factors I’ve identified when assessing these patients’ lifestyles:

1. The diet is lacking the nutrients the body needs to promote bone and heart health. The diet contains a high sodium and fat content since the majority of the food consumed is processed.

2. Exercise is non-existent other than walking from the parking lot to work. Exercise helps to lower blood pressure & cholesterol and promotes bone strength from weight-bearing exercise. The excuse is that they’re too busy or it hurts their knees/hips to workout.

3. Habitual routines involve food. Some eat out of boredom. Some eat when the TV is on. Some eat while on the computer…

Sure, a gym membership can be costly depending on the location and type of gym, but there are endless options for exercise without a gym. Sure, it’s easier to swing by the drive through than slave in the kitchen, but there are many online resources that offer quick, easy, cheap, and healthy recipes. For every excuse you come up with, I will respond “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Can you think of one or two things you could start planning ahead to make sure your health stays a high priority? It could be looking at your schedule a week ahead and writing in workout times. You are more likely to follow through if it’s scheduled into your routine. Maybe you could start by taking a half hour each weekend to make a grocery list and a rough meal plan to avoid spontaneous visits to the drive through. Could you shave a little money here and there to put toward your grocery budget? Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive, but your health is something that’s highly worth investing. Now, would you like fries with that $50,000 hip?

How does the value of your health affect your spending?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I completed Insanity which was 63 days. I ate as healthy as I could from all the years of knowledge I had. I lost 9 pounds and feel great. One of the key problems is education. If I watch a children’s show with my kids do you know how many times Chucky Cheese comes on? Every commercial. I am not joking. Every commercial. Naturally that is where all kids want to go until they find McDonalds. Luckily for my kids they can fight me to the death they aren’t going there unless someone has a birthday party there.

    • I did P90x for about 2 months and thought THAT was insane. Congrats on finishing it! I agree with the commercials. There has been some progress with regulations on the way unhealthy food is promoted to kids, but not enough to really change their mind. Maybe they should start putting toys in the bran cereals!

  2. I’ve been working out and feel so much better. I may about the same but my clothes fit better and I lost a dress size. I’ll be buying the Insanity program here pretty soon. I’ve been getting my fiance to eat more veggies and less junk–so we’re doing better than we were a year ago!

    • It’s nice having a wingman to help keep you accountable to eat healthy and workout. The hubs and I make sure we allow ourselves an indulgence once in awhile so we don’t snap and eat a whole box of something!

  3. My job is a physical labor job so I don’t much have to worry about weight gain or lack of phyusical exercise. Lucky me!

    I’ve got some other costs of obesity: diabetes care, kidney failure care, heart attack care….

    • I think that’s how my dad’s stayed in such great shape. I should give him a pedometer to see how much he walks at work, it’s gotta be 10 miles or so! Healthy eating is another story for him though- he polished off an entire bag of salt & vinegar chips last time I visited! Everyone could use some work I guess 🙂 I agree with the other costs you mentioned- you can’t put a price on the quality of life either when it comes to those diseases.

  4. I find I spend more on quality organic foods but I don’t mind that. I think if I added up the cost of my groceries over the years it wouldn’t come close to what I could spend on medical bills.

    I also spend money on working out at studios sometimes which helps me feel good and keeps me at a healthy weight and in shape. I have more energy and am a lot happier. To me it is worth it.

    • and people don’t have to go all in with organic foods which is what some think. I think sticking with the dirty dozen and the clean 15 is adequate. I have a few friends who work out at a studio and hear the same thing- you get such a great workout that it’s worth it compared to paying less for a semi-good workout by yourself.

  5. I have belonged to gyms in the past, but this time around I decided to just find a good walking route near my home that I could commit to at least 4 or 5 days a week.
    It has been such a great activity for me. I have lost a few pounds and inches, but the best part is that I feel so much better. And I get outside and breathe fresh air every time I walk…. and meet the people in my neighborhood. All good things! I encourage you to try it (if you feel safe in your neighborhood!)

    • Consistency is a big factor in losing weight. I hear stories of people working out hard core for a day or two because and are so sore that it’s another week before they work outagain! Dave and I have a beautiful neighborhood next to our apartment complex we enjoy walking through.

  6. I think it is a great idea to lose weight and not to be obese for many health related reason but what about medical insurance? Doesn’t that pay for all/most of those procedures, making it less expensive to be obese?

    • Depending on the insurance it can cover all/most of the procedures. If someone had that advantage then I would still argue the cost of losing quality of life from various diseases like BlueCollarWorkman mentioned- obesity often leads to diabetes which can lead to heart and kidney disease. Dialysis patients have to go for 4 hours a day, 3 days a week plus follow a strict diet. I couldn’t imagine losing all that time!

  7. This was an issue when hubby was a restraunt manager and his food was always free……….

    No matter how much I warned him (my uncle had his first triple bypass surgery by 30 and then many throughout his life due to fast food and steak every night) Hubby ate the food and I worried and worried.

    Hubby ignored his first heart attack and had his second at 38……when he went in thats when they had discovered he also had had a past one. He was overweight and eating way too much crap not to mention enough coca cola to kill an elephant.

    We had no insurance at the time but he lost weight and got healthy, quit eating all the crap but now since it is a pre-existing condition I would have not found an insurance that would take him even if we could afford private insurance.

    Staying healthy in the first place is usually best !

    • Oh my goodness! Great testimony to further prove the point! The guy from the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” had a similar story- he ignored his health and just added more and more meds until he finally decided enough was enough and worked on his lifestyle (diet, physical activity)

  8. Oh I should also state it cost us a middle class income as well as he was headed quickly for his third heart attack! so for us? it cost us a whole LOT!

  9. I used to be morbidly obese. I lost over 100 pounds through… wait…. diet and exercise! Now, I’m a triathlete and pay careful attention to my nutrition, because food is fuel.

    What triggered this change? My mom needing knee replacement (arthritis caused the problem, but being overweight didn’t help her).

    All I know is, the amount of money I spend on staying healthy is far less than the amount it would have cost to repair the damage later.

    As for medical insurance – sure, that will pay for many of these procedures (I live in Canada, where almost all of it is covered). But it will not cover the hidden extra costs – clothes are much more expensive and hard to find. You may need to purchase two seats when you fly or attend events. You may have to replace furniture more frequently because you weight wears it out more quickly. There are many, many other costs too. My uncle can’t work because of his weight related health problems – that is a huge cost.

    • GREAT points on hidden costs and congrats on losing 100+ pounds! Lifestyle changes are the key to weight loss and weight maintenance. I live close to Cedar Point and have seen people who had to get off of a roller coaster ride because they couldn’t fit in the seat. Our hospital is also ordering a mass amount of larger beds, wheelchairs, and regular sitting chairs… Sometimes it seems our society is accomodating obesity instead of promoting healthy lifestyles!

  10. Thanks for the important reminder about keeping health a priority. I saw a recent stat where they said that obesity makes up 21% of our health care cost, which is scary. I found working out on my lunch hour is the best way to get workout in.

  11. I love the idea of working out during lunch. You get your workout done and have more time after work for other activities. I have to go in the morning because I’m a girl and it takes me longer to do hair, make up,etc… unfortunately I can’t take a 1.5 hour lunch to do that 😉

  12. Well, even if the gym membership costs $100/month, it is $3.5 per day. I think the bigger excuse we all might have (not only obese people) is that it takes a lot of time! 2-3h taken from a day (the exercise + getting there, changing, shower, returning). But there are always options: biking and walking for those who can. Fit folks on wheelchairs use manual chairs more often or take 10 minutes here and there during the day to get some cardio done – even at home. No time, no money (and less mobility)? Still no problem 🙂

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