While smokers and the overweight are often criticised for the financial impact of their unhealthy lifestyles, an obese person's medical bills actually average 10 per cent less overall than those of a person of normal weight and smokers require even less treatment, Dutch researchers said. The reason being that the healthy tend to live longer and so, while they might not have to battle lung cancer, heart disease or diabetes in their fifties, they may need long-term care for illnesses of old age such as Alzheimer's.
As a result, any savings made by them being healthy when young are more than offset by their being ill in old age. However, Prof Klim McPherson of Oxford University cautioned that the research should not used as an excuse not to tackle rising levels of obesity.
He asked,''Is it worth knowing obese individuals are cheaper than lean ones for the health sector in the long run?'' The Dutch experts admitted that the effects of obesity and smoking stretched further than the health system, the Daily Mail reported.
''We have focused solely on healthcare costs, ignoring broader cost categories and the consequences of these risk factors to society,'' they said.