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The incidence of obesity in the United States has soared from 13 per cent to 34 per cent over the last 50 years, while the percentage of Americans who are extremely or "morbidly" obese has rocketed from 0.9 per cent to 6 per cent.

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 (U.S.) in annual medical costs due to obesity, double earlier estimates.

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$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.

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