Using previous knowledge that people with a high body mass index (BMI) are more prone to conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer -- all conditions with steep price tags -- the researchers created a computational simulation of the U.S. adult population.
The simulation examined adults at various ages, weights and health statuses, and then calculated estimated direct medical costs, productivity losses (including sick time).
Here’s how much money you could save by losing weight:
Obese to overweight: $17,655
Obese to healthy weight: $28,020
Obese to overweight: $18,262
Obese to healthy weight: $31,447
Age 50, cost savings peak
Average total savings: $36,278
Though researchers found that cost savings peaked at age 50 and decreased with older ages, they noted that older adults who lose weight can still save money.
In the U.S., more than 70 percent of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. That costs the country nearly $210 billion each year, study authors wrote.
“Over half the costs of being overweight can be from productivity losses, mainly due to missed work days. This means that just focusing on medical costs misses a big part of the picture, though they're a consideration, too,” Bruce Y. Lee, executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at the Bloomberg School, said in a news release. “Productivity losses affect businesses, which in turn affects the economy, which then affects everyone.”