Health-care costs of underweight, overweight and obesity: Australian population-based study

Clifford, Susan A., Gold, Lisa, Mensah, Fiona K., Jansen, Pauline W., Lucas, Nina, Nicholson, Jan M. and Wake, Melissa 2015, Health-care costs of underweight, overweight and obesity: Australian population-based study, Journal of paediatrics and child health, vol. 51, no. 12, pp. 1199-1206, doi: 10.1111/jpc.12932.

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Title Health-care costs of underweight, overweight and obesity: Australian population-based study
Author(s) Clifford, Susan A.
Gold, LisaORCID iD for Gold, Lisa
Mensah, Fiona K.
Jansen, Pauline W.
Lucas, Nina
Nicholson, Jan M.
Wake, Melissa
Journal name Journal of paediatrics and child health
Volume number 51
Issue number 12
Start page 1199
End page 1206
Total pages 8
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng
Publication date 2015-12
ISSN 1034-4810
Keyword(s) child
health services research
health-care cost
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Summary AIM: Child health varies with body mass index (BMI), but it is unknown by what age or how much this attracts additional population health-care costs. We aimed to determine the (1) cross-sectional relationships between BMI and costs across the first decade of life and (2) in longitudinal analyses, whether costs increase with duration of underweight or obesity. METHODS: Participants: Baby (n = 4230) and Kindergarten (n = 4543) cohorts in the nationally representative Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. OUTCOME: Medicare Benefits Scheme (including all general practitioner plus a large proportion of paediatrician visits) plus prescription medication costs to federal government from birth to sixth (Baby cohort) and fourth to tenth (Kindergarten cohort) birthdays. PREDICTOR: biennial BMI measurements over the same period. RESULTS: Among Australian children under 10 years of age, 5-6% were underweight, 11-18% overweight and 5-6% obese. Excess costs with low and high BMI became evident from age 4-5 years, with normal weight accruing the least, obesity the most, and underweight and overweight intermediate costs. Relative to overall between-child variation, these excess costs per child were very modest, with a maximum of $94 per year at age 4-5 years. Nonetheless, this projects to a substantial cost to government of approximately $13 million per annum for all Australian children aged less than 10 years. CONCLUSIONS: Substantial excess population costs provide further economic justification for promoting healthy body weight. However, obese children's low individual excess health-care costs mean that effective treatments are likely to increase short-term costs to the public health purse during childhood.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/jpc.12932
Field of Research 140208 Health Economics
111704 Community Child Health
1114 Paediatrics And Reproductive Medicine
Socio Economic Objective 920501 Child Health
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Wiley
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
Population Health
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