Pushing the U.S. obesity rate down to 1987 levels by 2027 could cut per-capita health care spending 4% that year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
CBO researchers make that suggestion in a brief on the effects of obesity on health care spending.
The percentage of U.S. adults who are overweight or obese increased to 63% in 2007, from 44% in 1987, researchers report.
Some scientists have speculated that the increase in obesity rates might be partly related to factors such as food additives or viruses, or to a decline in physical activity.
The CBO researchers cite an early study suggesting that the weight shift is “related mostly to an increase in caloric intake–and, in particular, an increase in calories from snacks–rather than to a decline in physical activity.”
The percentage of U.S. health care spending that appears to be the result of excess weight increased to 32% in 2007, from 18% in 1985, the researchers report.