August 24, 2016
1 min read

Depression may drive health care costs in obesity

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The presence of comorbidities and depression in adults with obesity may be a primary driver of high health care costs in the United Kingdom, according to recent findings.

“Until greater success is observed in lowering obesity levels, the clinical focus should be on prevention of secondary conditions as a way of improving the health status of obese patients and lowering resulting costs,” the researchers wrote.

Helen Booth
Helen P. Booth

Helen P. Booth, PhD, of the department of primary care and public health sciences at King’s College London, and colleagues evaluated data from the U.K. Clinical Practice Research Datalink on 250,046 adults enrolled in a general practice from 2008 to 2013. BMI was categorized into six groups: 18.5 kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2, 25 kg/m2 to 29.9 kg/m2, 30 kg/m2 to 34.9 kg/m2, 35 kg/m2 to 39.9 kg/m2, 40 kg/m2 to 44.9 kg/m2 and 45 kg/m2 and greater.

Analysis revealed a positive linear relationship between health care costs and BMI category and a consistent relationship between greater health care costs and depression. Greater costs were associated with comorbidities and any level of BMI.

After adjusting for BMI, the presence of a comorbidity was the largest predictor of health care costs, yielding a mean £1,366 annual increase in patient costs; depression was the second greatest predictor, yielding a mean £1,044 increase in annual costs.

Average health care costs were increased by £456 annually in patients with morbid obesity compared with normal-weight patients.

Depression along with a comorbidity resulted in a mean £243 annual increase per year with a £168 additional cost with obesity, £152 with severe obesity and £199 with morbid obesity.

“The findings reiterate that health care costs increase with BMI category, but they also show that comorbidities, particularly depression, are the main drivers of these costs,” Booth told Endocrine Today. “Given the limited effectiveness of individuals’ weight management strategies, we believe that the findings support improving depression management and primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in primary care to reduce these costs.” – by Amber Cox

For more information:

Helen P. Booth, PhD, can be reached at

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.