ADB ㅣ 2017.07.07
Obesity has a measurable impact on health and health-related quality of life, and generates considerable economic burden. We build on previous research by examining available evidence on obesity, estimating obesity-related medical costs using more representative and reliable data, and estimating obesity-related risk of disability in the Republic of Korea. The obesity rate is higher for males than for females and for the self-employed (including their dependents) than for employed adults (including their dependents). It has been growing over time, especially among younger adults and adolescents, indicating greater obesity in the future. Obesity (relative to having a BMI <25) is associated with about W5,000 (in 2010 won) higher medical costs for male adults and about W77,000 (in 2010 won) higher medical costs for female adults. Severe obesity (relative to having a BMI <30) increases medical costs far more than obesity for both males and females, indicating higher cost effects for the few who are severely obese. When these estimated effects of obesity in increasing medical costs were used to estimate obesity-related aggregate medical costs in the Republic of Korea, they were W35.8 billion (in 2010 won) for males and W306.5 billion (in 2010 won) for females. Furthermore, obesity is positively associated with disability, indicating another cost of obesity. Therefore, obesity is associated with a significant economic burden in terms of medical costs and disability in the Republic of Korea.