The Economics of Treating Obesity

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Obesity has become a major contemporary public health concern. The excess burden of disease associated with obesity (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, gallbladder disease) results in considerable costs to society, while the indirect costs of obesity include decreased labour input and lower educational achievement.

Obese individuals have decreased quality of life and life expectancy. Furthermore, society's stigmatisation of the obese results in decreased opportunities in education, housing and employment.

Obesity may be treated by behavioural modification (dieting, exercise), or by interventionist means (pharmacotherapy, jaw-wiring, surgery). The method of weight reduction should be chosen to suit the individual patient; interventionist approaches may be required for patients with severe obesity. Studies to examine the cost and quality of life implications of the various treatment modalities are needed.

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