The Cost of Being Overweight

by Guest Blogger on 2008-07-2133

Are you overweight? Then you could be paying more to be this way. Lose weight to improve your health and your finances.

To find out if you’re overweight, try out this BMI calculator.

While most of us understand that being overweight is bad for our health, the fact that it can also be bad for our wallets is not something that many people consider. However, recent studies have shown that the overweight are at a definite economic disadvantage, and their employers are too. With many countries (like Japan) moving to regulate the size of waistlines in an attempt to save money, it has suddenly become very important to lose weight.

Let’s look at just a few of the ways that being overweight can affect your wallet, and what you could be doing with that money instead.

#1 Life Insurance Premiums

People who are overweight typically have to pay life insurance premiums that are twice to four times as expensive as the average person. Over time, this can add up to thousands of dollars. Life insurance is already expensive enough, and if losing weight can help you save money on your premiums, now is the time to get fit. The cost of insurance goes up every year, and if your waistline is also expanding, you could be in for some serious fees.

#2 Health Insurance Premiums

According to Business Week, employers pay more for their overweight employee’s health insurance. The average extra cost is around $2,400 every single year. If you’re paying your own insurance premiums, the cost can be even higher, especially if you don’t have the benefit of a group plan. The fact is, being overweight does lead to additional health problems and insurance companies need to charge more to cover that eventuality. Even if you are relatively healthy, on paper, you are a big risk.

#3 Higher Travel Costs

Most airlines are now charging overweight people for two seats, or even more. This adds up, especially as rising jet fuel costs are forcing airlines to raise their ticket prices. It’s embarrassing enough to have to pay for more than one seat, but if you are doing a lot of travel, you are spending thousands more than you should be every single year.

#4 Higher Costs for Everything

From clothes to food, overweight people usually end up spending more money for the every day necessities. Over time, this can really add up, especially if you continue to pack on the pounds. If for no other reason, this kind of hit to your pocketbook may be what it takes to convince you to lose weight.

When you add up all of these items, it has been found that overweight people spend at least $10,000 over the course of their lives than the average person. What would you do with an additional $10,000, and the longer life span to enjoy it? Now, let’s say that you invested that money — imagine the kind of returns that you could get? That kind of cash could mean the difference when it comes to retirement planning or special purchases. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but being overweight is costly, and for many, the costs are more than just poor health.

Besides, personally I am tired of being overweight… Aren’t you?


Editor: I’d like to thank Weight Ladder for this guest post. He has graciously shared with us his weight loss progress. Follow him as he climbs down the weight ladder!

Before Weight Loss Photo

before weight loss photo


After Weight Loss Photo (after losing 53 pounds in 9 weeks)

after weight loss photo

If you enjoyed this post, you may also find the following articles worth a read! 🙂 And yes, I am indeed tired of being overweight myself — must lose 25 lbs!

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Weight Ladder July 21, 2008 at 11:34 am

@TDL: Thanks for the opportunity.

@TDL Readers: Stop by anytime.

Lise July 21, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Why is it that all pictures of fat people have the heads cut off? Way to dehumanize fatties even more 🙁

BMI is a problematic measure of health risks from obesity, largely because it’s been arbitrarily changed at points in time, and will continue to be. In 1997 the BMI standard for overweight was lowered, making millions of people overweight overnight. Were they magically less healthier? Somehow I doubt it.

I think this article is conflating being overweight with being unhealthy, which is not surprising considering the source. Not only that, but the tone seems to be “You’re fat, and it’s all your fault,” when there is clearly a large hereditary component to obesity. Why are we not instead *outraged* that the overweight have to pay more for, well, everything, as opposed to thinner people? (And in the case of clothes, this assumes they have even find anything that doesn’t look frumpy, because clothing designers apparently operate under the assumption that if you’re fat you obviously want to look like a middle-aged schoolteacher).

Silicon Valley Blogger July 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm


As far as the photo goes, I’ll take it down. I only found it in a news article about the topic of being overweight. But that’s an interesting observation — in the media, heads are cut off from people who are heavy. Although I did not notice this right away, you’re right… heavy people are also shown with their backs or just from the neck down in the media. But I always thought this was for the sake of anonymity or to protect people’s privacy?

From discussions I’ve read on being overweight, I find that there are two camps: those who deride their situation and want to make changes or those who are accepting of their situation and may or may not want to make changes. I also believe there is a strong genetic component involved with obesity, so I imagine how frustrating it can be to be heavy. For the record, I myself am overweight and want to lose the weight. I have been trying to do so over the last 6 years ever since I had my first child.

This article was meant to show, by example (as per Weight Ladder’s photos), that weight loss can be achieved. I personally find it inspiring.

PersonalBudgetTraining July 21, 2008 at 1:37 pm

The economic impact of overweight and obesity includes direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include medical costs classified as preventive, diagnostic and treatment. Indirect costs include morbidity and mortality costs such as loss productivity, absenteeism, and premature death.

According to the Office of the Surgeon General, in 2000, the U.S. paid an estimated $117 billion for obesity and its healthcare costs.

Take a look at the top ten leading causes of death, obesity is not listed directly, but all of the risk factors are there.

Weight Ladder July 21, 2008 at 2:33 pm

BMI is very problematic… 90%+ of NBA players would be considered overweight. Those guys ALL have body fat under 10% and not one of them is overweight.

To say that you are doomed because of genetics or injury or anything is simply an excuse in my opinion… Insurance companies are in the business of pricing risk… unless a factor is explicitly outlawed (race or religion for example) they should price for that risk factor and one can hardly be outrage at the insurance companies.

I have no one to blame for being overweight but myself. I am working to improve it. I will succeed.

Weight Ladder July 21, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Sorry but I am just a little ticked…

I am not a victim and nor is anyone else…

Look within yourself to find the strength to tackle any obstacles in your path…

Get up, Stand up, Don’t Give up the Fight…

Silicon Valley Blogger July 21, 2008 at 2:47 pm

@Weight Ladder,

Are BMI calculators misleading then? I’m curious now. If so, are there any calculators in existence that can tell us if we are overweight or not? I know I am overweight and the BMI calculator says that I am but if that’s not accurate, I’d like a better way to find out… other than seeing a doctor and getting pinched. 🙂

Weight Ladder July 21, 2008 at 3:00 pm

BMI calculators are based entirely on height and weight. The do no account for muscle mass or bone density (big boned).
At the very least BMI should be combined with BF%, but then if you have BF% why do you need BMI?

Equasion here:

Lazy man on BMI and BF% and …:

Frugal Dad July 21, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Thanks for this post from Weight Ladder. I am myself a “heavy blogger,” so I can appreciate his point of view (and I found his photos to be very inspiring!).

I agree with SVB that there is a genetic component to obesity, but not so strong that it can’t be overcome through proper nutrition and exercise. Both of my parents are obese, and to this point I’ve followed in their footsteps. But like Weight Ladder says, I am tired of being overweight!

I plan on following Weight Ladder for some added inspiration on my own weight-loss journey!

Austin REMAX July 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Hey. I feel for ya. Ever since I moved from being in an active type job to more of a sitting behind the desk white collar job, I gained a ton of weight. I never used to have to walk the neighborhood as exercise or force myself to leave the house, but now a days, seems like that is the case. I wonder if part of our weight issue in this country is the switch from manual labor jobs to more sedentary jobs.

Flintrock at Hurst Creek Real Estate | Acclaimed Austin Builder

Sam July 21, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Waahhh!! This is an eye-opener. Time to lose some weight. The last time I did some diet via South Beach was months before my wedding. Now I’m a 28 yr old father of 1, I’ve ballooned to 183lbs*laughs*.

Thanks for the reminder.

Fix My Personal Finance

Parrot Bluetooth July 22, 2008 at 4:28 am

This discrimination must be removed indeed as I have my best friend who weighs 130 kg and he has tried all excercises, dieting and almost everything but still unable to lose his weight. But yes one must try his/her best and the result may come who knows? Your blog is very informative and here it is I have bookmarked it:

Charlie Davis July 22, 2008 at 11:54 am

I wonder if anyone has tried challenging the airlines using the ADA. It seems that making people pay for an extra seat could in a sense be construed as discrimination.

Lise July 22, 2008 at 3:21 pm

In reply to Weight Ladder’s appeal to Bob Marley’s: Get up, Stand up, Don’t Give up the Fight…

Let’s not forget the first part of that chorus, which is “get up, stand up, stand up for your rights.”

I’m not against weight loss, per se. I am overweight myself and it almost certainly has to do with moving to a job with hot and cold running cupcakes.

What I am against is the discrimination against fat people. No matter what your reason for being overweight, you are a human being and deserving of dignity. There are already so many voices in society telling fat people they’re broken; I think rather than continuing that theme, so that they continue to internalize this kind of self-hatred, it’s better to:
a) work toward a more realistic goal. For many people, losing weight permanently and keeping it off for five years is not a reality. I believe the figure is something like 95% of people.
Being healthy, however? Is an attainable goal. It is possible, I believe, to be healthy at any size. The amount of exercise you get and the variety and quantity of food you eat is more important than an arbitrary number than BMI.
b) be outraged at the discrimination against the overweight in health care, airlines, clothing, doctor’s offices, etc, etc. Hence the “stand up for your rights.”

Weight Ladder, I don’t mean to seem like I’m belittling your efforts. It’s just that I think fat people hear too much of exactly this kind of article, and not enough of “you’re okay just the way you are.”

MoneyBlogga July 23, 2008 at 7:45 am

Silicon Valley Blogger, I really enjoy your blog!

Unless I missed it, no one mentions the effect of one’s emotions on one’s weight. Personally, I’ve stopped living in denial regarding the way I lived as a child but I KNOW that my past has everything to do with my present and future. It pains me to admit that my family was dirt poor when I was a kid. I remember the fridge being completely empty for days at a time. I remember poverty induced anger, depression and the accompanying beatings. I remember not getting enough of the things a kid needs: hugs, love, praise, tolerance, guidance.

When I left the parental house, I went crazy, chiefly with my finances and debt (I’ve filed bankruptcy once) and with food (I’m very overweight). For years I have listened to an internal voiceover that would always reiterate my “ineptitude”, my “lack of discipline”, the fact that I wasn’t “good enough” or “lovable” enough or “attractive” enough or “smart” enough.

Just over a year ago, my abusive parents came to visit me for the first time in about 3 years and they took up right they left off. My father, with his threats to beat the crap out of everyone, and my mother, with her emotional abuse which consists of withholding affection and understanding at the slightest provocation. I’m sorry to say that I basically threw my own parents out of the house. I had just had enough and I couldn’t take any more. I haven’t spoken to them since.

Although something snapped inside of me, something also was awoken: A clear view of the abuse I had been subjected to from these people who were supposed to have been protective and nurturing but were anything but, and the indelible stamp that their actions had left right across my psyche. The destructive emotions that arose out of that pit caused me to overspend and overeat for YEARS to dull the pain. I never wanted to admit that I was the child living in poverty, hungry, abused, and dressed in yard sale clothing that didn’t fit. Can you imagine going to school on Monday morning, dressed in a shirt that was picked up at a yard sale, only to hear another child say, “Hey! That’s MY shirt!!”

Directly facing my childhood abuse and the people that caused it was the first step on the road to recovery. Yes, I threw my own parents out of my house but I refused to be their doormat any longer. I’ve accepted the fact that they will die one day. I’ve accepted the fact that I will most likely never talk to them again and I’m FINE with it. No regrets whatsoever. One has to get to the root of self destructive behavior, face it and deal with it before any changes that one tries to make will stick and become permanent. Until that time, those negative emotions will ALWAYS have to be appeased with one’s destructive weapon of choice, whether its food, drugs, sex, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.

Margo July 25, 2008 at 4:47 am

Why is charging obese passengers for a 2nd seat discrimination? The airlines certainly shouldn’t have to give it away free, and they must look out for other passengers upon whose space these folks are encroaching. It also takes considerably more fuel to transport larger passengers. Why should I pay $25 to check a bag, when I + my bag still weigh less than an average sized man?

Silicon Valley Blogger July 25, 2008 at 7:59 am

CNN just came out today with this article: ‘Wellness: A healthy investment for company’. Some pointers:

– Nebraska company grades employees on how healthy they are.
– All employees have their weight, body fat and flexibility checked each quarter.
– The company’s per-employee health care cost is $4,000 a year, half the regional average.
– Workers are more productive and have better morale.

It’s wonderful when firms can adopt this stance and provide resources to employees to promote good health! End result: lower health care costs.

Fat Man Unleashed July 27, 2008 at 12:37 pm

BMI is a useless tool. In bootcamp I was 6 foot tall and weighed 225 lbs. To them I was overweight because I need to weigh no more than 209 lbs. At 209 lbs I am weaker, and you can notice the malnutritioned look. My energy levels were down I was forgetful of things. It might have had to do with my diet as well, but I was not fat by any means. I had a 4 pack and well defined muscles. Much like Weightladder says, BMI is a ridiculous indicator. A top athlete may be considered overweight, or a body builder just because of the measurements that BMI goes by.

If you want to check if you are healthy or overweight, look in the mirror, test your stamina, stuff like that. NFL lineman and sumo wrestlers are HUGE, have tons of fat on their bodies, but also lots of muscle. They are healthy, just large. When thinking of what to go by as a measurement, I like being able to sustain a 30 min jog without panting for dear life. Or running around with my 3 yr old playing tag without collapsing to the ground. how about going up a flight of stairs?

Also, look at what you eat. You will know if you are eating healthy or not. Do you get any physical activity, beyond your daily routine, in? Walking for the sake of walking? Stuff like that.

AndrewE July 27, 2008 at 5:56 pm

A lot of people deride the BMI scale and point out that athletes come out as overweight etc.

Fine, if you are an athlete then the BMI scale is not for you. However, a large proportion of folks who are not athletes use that as an excuse not to face up to the reality that they are overweight and it is potentially having a negative impact on their health.

The BMI is not the be all and end all either. It is a tool that doctors are supposed to use as an indicator.

Andrea Edwards August 3, 2008 at 10:02 pm

I agree with Lise. The media always seems to portray overweight people as lazy, ignorant, slow (mentally and physically), and unable to control themselves.

Being overweight can be the outcome of several different things, including medications, glandular unbalances, and overeating due to emotional and psychological issues. But they seemingly get criticized, as if they had total control over the cause of their obesity, and chose to ignore it.

So many people are alcoholics, whether they acknowledge it or not? How many people in smoke, countless? How many people have gambling problems? But all of these things are more socially acceptable than being overweight.

It seems that obese people are punished for not being able to hide their addiction/disease. you can visually see it before they open their mouths, or so you think.
Just my 2 cents.

evercleanse October 27, 2008 at 12:08 am

This is very uplifting to see, an obese man taking control of his life. Great job.

Steve November 15, 2008 at 10:57 pm

It’s scary — the issues related to obesity that are surrounding our children. I’m glad you made this great post.

Jj December 26, 2008 at 8:39 am

I have to agree with the poster regarding “victim mentality” – I don’t think we can place blame on anyone but ourselves and really don’t think society should have to pay, nor does really pay in the long run. I think each of us pays the highest price all on our own. If that makes sense – hope so!

There’s also so many factors regarding health and wellness that aren’t strictly related to simpl being overweight that seem to be getting lost in the mix.

But you did a great job on this write-up and I sincerely enjoyed reading your “take” on the matter and the feedback from other commenters so a huge thank you and best of success to you!

Jj January 19, 2009 at 9:21 am

Loved the interview – and major kudo’s to weight ladder – looking good!

Jilly August 17, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Hey guys, it is easy to put on extra weight these days, just look around, it IS hard to maintain a healthy weight, in all countries it comes down to what you eat. Plain and simple!”Everybody talks about the importance of diets and exercise in losing weight, but I think, based on my experience, one of the most important things to think about is protein.

I’m not sure how many people really understand the benefits of protein, but in fact Protein supplies the raw materials that become muscles, organs, hair, neurotransmitters enzymes, and just about anything else your body needs to keep it running right.

It also helps to satisfy hunger so therefore you stop looking for food everywhere and those quick snacks to keep you going. Protein also builds lean muscle, which increases your metabolic rate, which in turn, helps to burn unwanted stored body fat. So I’m pretty excited about encouraging people to increase their protein intake.


Roll Off Albany September 26, 2009 at 12:04 am

Great post, I’m sure many do not realize that being overweight is not only harming their health but their financial prosperity!

ivy February 22, 2010 at 12:41 am

I lost 16kg thru protein diet and I’m giving free consultations daily for customers at my nutrition club. Cut carbo such as bread, rice etc. drink water 50kg= 2 litres a day.
No KFC, Mc Donald etc fast food while still on your weight loss programs.

Good luck!

Ryan September 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm

BMI is not useless. Yes, if you are an athlete or a weight lifter BMI isn’t going to be a good reflection of your weight. But if you are an athlete or weight lifter you’ll know that or not care. If you are a normal person, BMI will give you a good idea. I bet BMI would work for 90% of people out that.

And saying it doesn’t take into account “bone density” is a bit funny. The weight difference between some one with high bone density and normal would be a couple pounds. Barely enough to bump you up a point on the BMI scale

Glenn November 19, 2010 at 5:00 am

I´ve really struggled with my weight. I was not happy the way I looked. So for a couple of years ago I decided to make a difference about my body and mind of course. I started to eat properly and workout at the same time. I started with a workout program that really improved.
I´ve never felt this good as i do now. I´ve got my self-confidence back and I can focus on other things that not including my weight and the way I look.

But I really want to say that, please don´t feel stupid or ugly just because you carry on some weigh. You are beautiful no matter what anybody says!

Thank your information and story.
Take care/ Glenn

Leave a Comment