Not Getting in Shape Can Cost you $58,811
I’ve grown to despise the human body over the last 5 years of my life. Over that time period, I’ve gone from being a very slim 185, 6’1, to being a festively plump 220. The reason I’ve started to get so mad at my body is that it really just doesn’t seem fair! After all, when I was 18 I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted and not have to worry about gaining any excess weight. Now, getting in shape is proving more and more difficult. I’m at a point in my life where all I have to do is drive by a goddamn Starbucks and I gain 3 pounds. Damn you, Charles Schultz. Damn. You.
This not-so-recent weight gain has led me to really think about not only the health implications of carrying “not so little around the middle”, but the financial implications. After all, not getting in shape is known to contribute to a veritable buffet of health conditions. Ohh, is that heart disease over there? Oh man, and they have stroke right over there next to the ice cream sprinkles? Cancer, gallstones, arthritis all have a place at the “overweight buffet” and it’s really just a matter of time until one of these things happen to you.
So today, we’re gonna discuss why getting in shape is not only vital to your lifestyle/wellbeing/cardiovascular health/sex life, etc., but also what effect it’s going to have on your wallet in the long run.
What do you mean, “not in shape”?
This is where I’m going to refer to the wonderful people over at The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, who have so graciously put together a fantastic little diagram for us to use to gauge just how fat we really are!
If you’ve never done any research into how doctors/researchers measure “fat”, then you’ve probably never heard of BMI, which stands for Body Mass Index. It’s a pretty simple calculation that uses your weight, height, and sometimes your waistline to figure out how much of you is made up of fat. Yeah, it sounds kind of gross, but it’s info you need.
For example, I just calculated my BMI, and at a stocky 6’1″ and 220, I’m right at 29.0, which means, technically, I’m “overweight.” Yup, no more Saturday nights filled with me sitting alone and eating my feelings… sad times.
Anywho, this is the BMI calculator that I used. As I didn’t like the result, I went through and compared to a few other calculators, but they all pretty much said the exact same thing:
I’m overweight. Womp.
What health risks do these imply?
There are obviously a LOT of risks that come along with being obese, but these are the ones that we’re going to focus on today:
- Coronary Heart Disease – All that fat from your double bacon cheeseburgers, your french fries, pepperoni pizzas, and the like starts to line the walls of your arteries like an insulation of death. Gross.
- High Blood Pressure – The pressure of blood against your capillaries is too great. Essentially, your heart is working overtime to get the job of pushing blood around done. All the more reason to have a relaxing and job and not have kids, amiright?… right?… no?… ok, moving on…
- Stroke – A stroke is when the crap that’s lining your veins becomes too thick and prevents blood flow to the brain.
- Type 2 Diabetes – When your cells don’t use insulin the way they should, and it affects how your cells turn glucose into energy.
- Colon, breast endometrial, and gallbladder cancer – This shouldn’t be new, but any form of cancer is essentially when the growth rates of cells goes out of of control, and tumors are formed.
- Sleep Apnea – You essentially stop breathing in the middle of the night. Scary. Shit.
- Gallstones – A cholesterol deposit that just sits in your gallbladder. Some can get up to the size of an apricot! WTF?! CAN YOU IMAGINE AN APRICOT SIZED ROCK JUST HANGING OUT INSIDE YOU?! NOPE!
- Oseoarthritis – Aches and pains in your joints from a lack of cartilage.
… and keep in mind, those are the physical ailments that accompany being overweight. We’re not even talking about the mental/emotional problems associated with not being in shape, like depression, anxiety, lower self-esteem, and worst of all, lower sex drive!
Ok, but what are my chances of getting these diseases?…
- CHD – This one is really quite related to how much weight you’ve packed on. In fact this study shows that men with a BMI between 25-29 (overweight, but not obese) have a 70% chance of developing CHD. For women in that same BMI range, the chance doubles. If those women were obese, those odds quadrupled.
- HBP – That same Framingham Heart Study shows that excess body weight is responsible for roughly 27% of cases of hypertension. Meaning that 1 in 4 cases of hypertension could be prevented if we lost weight. 1 in 3 Americans (75 million people) have high blood pressure, which means that 18.75 million cases of hypertension could be prevented by weight loss. 18.75 out of roughly 240 million adults: roughly 8% of heart disease cases could be prevented.
- Stroke – A meta study complete by Dr. Pasquale Strazzullo of Frederico II University of Naples Medical school demonstrates that being overweight increases your likelihood of stroke by 22%. If you’re obese, that number jumps to 64%! If 800,000 people have a stroke every year, and there are 240 million adults in the US, then that means that the rate of strokes is roughly 0.3%. Not bad! However, that number doubles every year after 55. Once you account for the doubling, and the overweight/obese increases, let’s say that being an obese 60 year-old means your risk of stroke is right around 15%, where 6% of that is due to your weight.
- Type 2 Diabetes – Roughly 28 million people had type II diabetes back in 2012, when the population was right around 315 million people in the US. This brings us to right around 9%. Because type II diabetes is adult onset, and because it’s normally attributed to the individual being overweight already, we’ll say that the risk is 9%.
- Cancer – This one is a little tricky, because being overweight very much contributes to increases in some cancer risk (like a 40% jump in risk for endometrial cancer) and not much at all (prostate cancer). Now we need to do some math: a study from the American Association for Cancer Research showed that being overweight/obese is responsible for 25% of cancer cases in the US. But because it’s responsible for 25% of the cases, that’s actually a 33% increase in the rate of cancer. So that extra slice of pie really packs on pounds, and therefore the risk, of getting some forms of cancer.
- Sleep Apnea – A little harder to hunt down this one, but a publication on NCBI.gov says that sleep apnea can be “estimated to ~25%, and as high as 45% in obese subjects” when referring to adults. Let’s say, for arguments sake, that if you’re overweight or obese that you’re 35% likely to suffer from sleep apnea.
- Gallstones – Somewhere between 10-15% of american adults will have gallstones in their lifetime. Let’s say that, if being obese increases that risk, that 1 in 5 (20%) of those who are overweight or obese will have them over the course of their lifetime.
- Osteoarthritis – This one is ridiculous to the max. If you’re overweight or obese, the odds of you getting arthritis is 2 IN 3!!! You read that correctly! If you’re overweight or obese, you are more likely to develop arthritis than not. 67% people. 67 PERCENT!!! DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU!
Costs associated with each disease
This is where the money starts to drain from your pockets…
- CHD – This paper demonstrates that as an average, CHD costs roughly $18,000, depending on whether you’ve had a stroke, have diabetes, or die. But let’s use that as our number for now.
- HBP – Again, this will depend on your insurance. If you’ve got yourself some decent coverage, then we’re looking at your co-pays, plus the amount you have to pay for prescriptions. If you’re not covered, then we’re looking at $700-$1,200 per year.
- Stroke – Your first stroke, over the course of your lifetime, is going to cost you a cool $100,000. Oh, and the study that cites that number? It was written in 1990. You’re probably looking more at $150,000 nowadays…
- Type 2 Diabetes – Find yourself with some diabetes? You’re looking at roughly $7,900 in medical expenditures per year.
- Cancer – There is a huge variation between type of cancer, treatment received, what stage the cancer is in, who your insurer is, etc. But given this study about the cost of breast cancer, you can expect anything from $15,000 to up to $200,000. Let’s just take a nice number in the middle, say $100,000. Christ, that’s terrifying…
- Sleep Apnea – The sleep study alone might run you $2,000, which doesn’t include the CPAP machine that will actually breathe for you, which will average another $2,000. There are lots of other costs that accompany sleep apnea, and your insurer may be fantastic or terrible. Lets say that out of pocket expenses are roughly $2,000 for sleep apnea.
- Gallstones – There is a HUGE range for the amount it takes to get a gallbladder removed, but for argument’s sake, let’s just say it’s roughly $10,000.
- Osteoarthritis – This study by Kotlartz, Gunnarsson, Fang, and Rizzo show that out of pocket expenses, per year, for women with OA increased by $1,379, and for men, $694. No small chunk of change.
Now for the scary part…
Here’s where we’re going to calculate how much having these conditions is going to cost you. The way we’re going to calculate how much not getting in shape is going to cost you is as follows:
- Take the amount that it costs to have the condition
- Multiply it by the percent increase in odds that you’ll have the condition
- That product will be how much it “should” cost you for being obese/overweight
Here’s what we came up with:
- CHD – $18,000 x 70% = $12,600
- HBP – $1,000 x 8% = $80
- Stroke – $150,000 x 6% = $9,000
- Type II Diabetes – $7,900 x 9% = $711
- Cancer – $100,000 x 33% = $33,000
- Sleep Apnea – $2,000 x 35% = $750
- Gallstones – $10,000 x 20% = $2,000
- Osteoarthritis – $1,000 x 67% = $670
TOTAL – $58,811
I’m going to let that sink in for a second…
There you have it folks. The cost of not getting in shape is going to cost you a cool $58,811. Here are some not so nice things to keep in mind, though:
- A lot of this data is either underestimated or used as an average. This could EASILY be two or three times as much, depending on your specific situation.
- This study only accounts for one time instances. For example, if you have more than on stroke, then you’re going to have to shell out more than if you had just had one. Or consider the HBP meds or the cases of arthritis. It’s not like you pay for those things once, and then they just go up in smoke like Howard Deans presidential bid (anybody… anybody?…). These are recurring expenses!
- These are just the physical ailments that accompany being obese. Nothing in this article has stated the mental/emotional costs of not getting in shape.
This study is imperfectly perfect…
Before you all get mad at me, let’s call some things out for what they are…
First, I’m not a highly trained medical researcher. I don’t have access to the databases that they use, nor do I have the Ph.D.’s that signal that I’ve spent YEARS training on how to do this sort of thing. All I’ve got are some advanced statistics classes and Google. So while the the $58,811 might not be a perfect number, it’s damn close.
Second, I know I didn’t take into consideration age at ALL. Which means that someone who’s 30 is probably way less likely to suffer from a stroke than someone who’s 80. It’s also a lot easier to lose weight when you’re younger. I get it. But seeing as I wasn’t going to write an individual analysis for every decile of age, I figured that a “lifetime” study was more prudent. That way I wasn’t typing until my fingers were nubs.
Third, I know that simply multiplying the chances of getting the disease while your obese times an average cost is less than perfect. Using that methodology, I’m technically saying that if you’re not obese, you have a 0% chance of having any of these things happen to you, ever. Obviously that’s not quite right. But the point from the data is that when you’re not putting in the time and getting in shape, it SIGNIFICANTLY increases your chances of developing at least one of these diseases.
THAT’S THE POINT WE’RE TRYING TO MAKE HERE, FOLKS!!!
Getting in shape can save you 58,811 – The Wrap Up
So like I said, this isn’t a perfectly methodical analysis of every single ailment you can develop while overweight. I couldn’t publish this in the American Journal of Medicine. But this article isn’t for fancy doctors and whatnot; it’s for you, dear reader. And the whole purpose of me writing this out was for you to realize that not getting in shape will cost you a ton of Benjie’s in the long run. Here’s what you need to know:
- Being overweight or obese will significantly increase your risk of CHD, HBP, stroke, cancer, and a myriad of other diseases.
- We live in a capitalist country, which means we will have to pay for a significant chunk of our medical expenses. Or move to Canada.
- The cost of not getting in shape is huge. In fact, if I wrote people a $60,000 check to lose 10-50 pounds, I’d be willing to bet the soul of my first-born son that they’d take it.
Have you ever considered how much it’s costing you to binge watch on Netflix as opposed to getting in shape? Do you think my number is way off, and I could have done some other calculations to make it more accurate? What do you think the mental/emotional costs are of not being in shape. Comment below!
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