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Overeating Costs Money - Hidden Costs Associated with Gaining Weight

May 25th, 2006

Overeating Costs Money - Hidden Costs Associated with Gaining Weight

French Fries

Upsizing your meal to mega-size at the fast food restaurants may be inexpensive but there are hidden costs to eating excessively.

A group of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison calculated how much money a single occurrence of overeating costs over the following year.  The study will be published in the June 2006 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

"When confronted with the overwhelming costs of obesity to society as a whole, people don't always take the statistics personally," said Rachel Close who worked with the professor of nutritional science, Dale Schoeller, as part of her master's thesis. "This is another way to present the costs associated with weight gain, and might help convince people that upsizing a meal is no bargain after all. With obesity projected to rise from the current 30 percent to 40 percent of the American population by 2010, this is an important message."


The researchers note that this same overeating could be applied with eating at home or eating out.  They also assumed overeating resulted in storage of body fat and was not later on lost from eating less at another meal.  The calculations were figured on additional medical care costs and vehicle’s gasoline mileage, and the additional caloric energy required to support the extra body weight.

Close measured the difference in calories from a regular to an up-sized French fries and soft drink from three major fast food restaurants.  She then referenced studies of body mass index and medical costs along with average vehicle mileage and gas prices to come up with a financial cost in the next year from eating just one super-sized meal.

The average cost to upgrade to the larger serving was only 67 cents.  It would be estimated that you would gain around 36 grams of fat from eating the extra food.  The total cost over the next year based on the need to eat more, gas, and medical cost would range from $4.06 up to $7.72 for men and from $3.10 up to $4.53 for women.  The range in cost is due to varying body types.


The hidden costs would increase the cost of the upgrade from 17 percent initially to 191 – 123 percent in a years time.

"While there's an immediate savings in upsizing a meal, we've shown that the hidden costs balance that initial savings, and actually surpass it," said Schoeller. "People might choose to change their behavior because of financial consequences, if the health consequences of obesity are not yet a factor in their lives."

If you factor in that many people may overeat on a regular basis that this could add up to a sizeable amount of money.  The more overweight the more likely you will incur medical costs in the years to come.  It is an interesting idea to think that a single up-sized meal could add up to more in a year’s time.  If you are looking to save some money and are concerned about your weight you could have a winning situation by cutting back on how much you eat.  Overeating at any time costs you extra; the researchers used fast food to illustrate the point but this can also be applied at home as well.

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Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication

Books on Eating

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.
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