NU Online News Service, May 14, 2003, 1:22 p.m. EDT – Moderate and severe problems with excess weight cost private U.S. health insurers about $20 billion per year and account for about 8.2% of private insurers’ medical expenditures, according to a paper published on the Web site of the journal Health Affairs.

The authors of the article cite federal government survey data showing that 33% of U.S. residents who have private insurance are overweight and that 17% are obese.

Average annual insurance expenditures increase $143, or 14%, for insureds who are overweight, and $423, or 38%, for insureds who are obese, the researchers conclude.

The article is posted on the Web at http://www.healthaffairs.org/WebExclusives/Finkelstein_Web_Excl_051403.htm