By Sharon Begley
April 30 (Reuters) - The incidence of obesity in the United States has soared from 13 percent to 34 percent over the last 50 years, while the percentage of Americans who are extremely or "morbidly" obese has rocketed from 0.9 percent to 6 percent.
Although the epidemic of obesity is well-known, the costs are not -- and in many cases are significantly greater than estimated even a few years ago. Some examples of obesity's economic impact:
* $190 billion in annual medical costs due to obesity, double earlier estimates.
* $1,850 more per year in medical costs for an overweight person than for someone of healthy weight, among employees at the Mayo Clinic and their adult dependents. $3,086 more per year in medical costs for a Mayo worker with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 to 40.
* $5,530 more per year in medical costs for a Mayo worker with a BMI above 40. By comparison, smokers' medical costs were only $1,274 a year higher than nonsmokers', who generally die earlier.
* $5 billion annually for additional jet fuel needed to fly heavier Americans, compared to fuel needed at 1960 weights.
* $4 billion annually for additional gasoline as cars carry heavier passengers.
* $1,026: annual cost of absenteeism per very obese male worker (BMI > 40). $1,262: Annual cost of absenteeism per very obese female worker.
* $277: annual cost of absenteeism per mildly obese (BMI 25 to 29.9) male worker.
* $407: annual cost of absenteeism per mildly obese female worker.
* $1,056: cost of a "bariatric chair," able to hold 500 pounds.
* $1,049: cost of a bariatric toilet rated at 700 pounds.
Source: Reuters reporting (Reporting by Sharon Begley)