Childhood Obesity and the Cost of Prescription Medication in Young Adults: A Prospective Cohort Study

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för nationalekonomi

Abstract: Abstract. The rise in obesity over the past several decades is a global trend from which Sweden is by no means exempt. This study presents an estimate of the prescription drug costs associated with obesity in young adults in Sweden who were treated for obesity as children. This paper makes a significant contribution to the field by estimating the direct cost of obesity using four years (2010 to 2013) of hard data from national registers on a large obese cohort and a population-based matched control group. These features distinguish this study from previous research endeavoring to quantify the cost of obesity. Method: Costs were estimated using a two-part regression model by first determining the probability of collecting prescription drugs and, conditional on a positive result, estimating the magnitude of prescription drug costs. Adjustments were made for potentially influential factors in order to produce estimates as close to the truth as possible. Results: Each year, obese men and women were 13 and 15 percentage points more likely, respectively, to collect prescription medication than random members of their communities. On average, men and women in the obese cohort sustained an annual excess cost of SEK 799: SEK 1 208 compared with SEK 409 in the comparison group. This study concludes that there is a causal relationship between obesity and increased prescription drug costs in young adulthood.

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