International Journal of Exercise Science 9(1): 26-33, 2016. The prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States increased more than three-fold from 1976 – 1980 to 2007 – 2008. The Presidential Youth Fitness Program’s FitnessGram® is the current method recommended by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition for assessing health-related fitness factors, including body composition. FitnessGram® data from California and Texas, the two most populous states, over a three-year time span indicate that more than one-third of fifth grade students, typically ten-year-olds, are obese. Previous studies report that an obese ten-year-old child who remains obese into adulthood will incur elevated direct medical costs beyond his or her normal-weight peers over a lifetime. The recommended elevated cost estimates are approximately $12,660 when comparing against a normal-weight child who gains weight as an adult and approximately $19,000 compared to a child who remains at normal weight as an adult. By applying these figures to FitnessGram® results from California and Texas, each group of fifth grade students in each of the two states will incur between $1.4 and $3.0 billion in direct medical costs over a lifetime. When the percentage of obese fifth graders is extrapolated to the rest of the United States’ 4 million ten-year-olds, this results in more than $17 billion (accounting for adulthood weight gain) or $25 billion (not accounting for adulthood weight gain) in added direct lifetime medical costs attributable to obesity for this single-year age cohort. This information should be used to influence spending decisions and resource allocation to obesity reduction and prevention efforts.
Levitt, Danielle E.; Jackson, Allen W.; and Morrow, James R. Jr.
"An Analysis of the Medical Costs of Obesity for Fifth Graders in California and Texas,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 9
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol9/iss1/4