The case for action on socioeconomic differences in overweight and obesity among Australian adults: modelling the disease burden and healthcare costs
journal contributionposted on 2020-04-01, 00:00 authored by E Gearon, Kathryn BackholerKathryn Backholer, Anita LalAnita Lal, W Nusselder, Anna PeetersAnna Peeters
Objective: We aimed to quantify the extent to which socioeconomic differences in body mass index (BMI) drive avoidable deaths, incident disease cases and healthcare costs. Methods: We used population attributable fractions to quantify the annual burden of disease attributable to socioeconomic differences in BMI for Australian adults aged 20 to <85 years in 2016, stratified by quintiles of an area-level indicator of socioeconomic disadvantage (SocioEconomic Index For Areas Indicator of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage; SEIFA) and BMI (normal weight, overweight, obese). We estimated direct healthcare costs using annual estimates per person per BMI category. Results: We attributed $AU1.06 billion in direct healthcare costs to socioeconomic differences in BMI in 2016. The greatest number (proportion) of cases and deaths attributable to socioeconomic differences in BMI was observed for type 2 diabetes among women (8,602 total cases [16%], with 3,471 cases [22%] in the most disadvantaged quintile [SEIFA 1]) and all-cause mortality among men (2027 total deaths [4%], with 815 deaths [6%] in SEIFA 1). Conclusions: Socioeconomic differences in BMI substantially contribute to avoidable deaths, disease cases and direct healthcare costs in Australia. Implications for public health: Population-level policies to reduce socioeconomic differences in overweight and obesity must be identified and implemented.