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Am J Public Health. 1999 October; 89(10): 1536–1542.
PMCID: PMC1508787

Lifetime health and economic benefits of weight loss among obese persons.


OBJECTIVES: This study estimated the lifetime health and economic benefits of sustained modest weight loss among obese persons. METHODS: We developed a dynamic model of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and the risks and costs of 5 obesity-related diseases: hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), and stroke. We then calculated the lifetime health and economic benefits of a sustained 10% reduction in body weight for men and women aged 35 to 64 years with mild, moderate, and severe obesity. RESULTS: Depending on age, gender, and initial BMI, a sustained 10% weight loss would (1) reduce the expected number of years of life with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and type 2 diabetes by 1.2 to 2.9, 0.3 to 0.8, and 0.5 to 1.7, respectively; (2) reduce the expected lifetime incidence of CHD and stroke by 12 to 38 cases per 1000 and 1 to 13 cases per 1000, respectively; (3) increase life expectancy by 2 to 7 months; and (4) reduce expected lifetime medical care costs of these 5 diseases by $2200 to $5300. CONCLUSIONS: Sustained modest weight loss among obese persons would yield substantial health and economic benefits.

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