Feb 05, 2008 04:30 AM
Maria Cheng Associated Press
LONDON–Preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it doesn't save money, researchers reported yesterday.
It costs more to care for healthy people who live years longer, according to a Dutch study that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars.
"It was a small surprise," said Pieter van Baal, an economist at the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, who led the study.
"But it also makes sense. If you live longer, then you cost the health system more."
In a paper published online yesterday in the Public Library of Science Medicine
journal, Dutch researchers found the health costs of thin, healthy people in adulthood are more expensive than those of either fat people or smokers.
Van Baal and colleagues created a model to simulate lifetime health costs for three groups of 1,000 people: the "healthy-living" group, obese people and smokers.
The model relied on "cost of illness" data and disease prevalence in the Netherlands in 2003.