The Cost of Being Obese or Overweight

I really don’t like to use those terms, but those are the words the medical establishment uses to describe those of us who are weight-challenged. Last night, I was talking with John about the costs associated with being overweight. We touched on:

Medical costs

Expensive clothes

Increased Food costs

Social and Emotional costs

I got to thinking about the third one, and realized that in addition to all the emotional, social and physical costs of struggling with weight, there can be some actual dollar costs when it comes to the food purchases many overweight people make – myself included.


Here’s an example from my former life as an obese person. (I did use today’s figures rather than those from 13 years ago.)

One fast-food combo-type meal each day of the week: $5.99 x 7 = $41.93

Two bags of chips each week: $5.00

Candy, brownie mixes, cookie packages for the week: $6.00

Three sit-down restaurant meals: $9.50 x 3 = $28.50

Rough average for a week of food that didn’t do one thing for my health: $81.43

Rough average for 52 weeks of food that didn’t do one thing for my health: $4,234.36


That’s a lot of cash for junk. When I think of all the excuses I made over the years that I couldn’t “afford” healthier food, I couldn’t “afford” to join a gym or hire a personal trainer. I was definitely in denial as to the dollar costs of the choices I made to keep my obesity going.

I know that eating healthy, whole foods can be expensive, but so can eating a bunch of junk. Honestly, we spent less money on food when I stopped sneaking junk, fast food meals and secretly making pans of brownies when no one was paying attention. That $4,000 dollars I spent on junk food easily covered a few new pairs of shoes each year, new smaller clothes, healthier foods and the occasional 5K race fee.

Have you ever thought about the dollar cost of the junk food that contributed to your struggle with weight?  Diane

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  1. This is so true! I hate when people say they can’t afford healthy food! It’s a question of priorities. However, I do think that a lot of people get sucked into buying really unhealthy foods because they are marketed as being a great value or are really cheap.
    Amy recently posted…Its Raining- Its PouringMy Profile

  2. and those are (I think) really conservative numbers. For those who have pop/soda/soft drink or ice cream sundaes disguised as coffee habits, the cost would be significantly higher.
    Vickie recently posted…Jens Biggest Loser Season 11 ReviewsMy Profile

    • You are definitely right. Those numbers are conservative – I didn’t really consider the coffee/coke habit because that can add major dollars each week.

  3. You so have a point in saying that healthy eating can be expensive but so does junk food as well. There are so many people who uses the excuse that healthy eating is expensive but so is Junk food as well and that they don’t take into consideration.
    I did think about the costs of Junk food I ate when I was obese, once before. So true.
    blackhuff recently posted…Friday … new things … I’m on the rollMy Profile

  4. The “it’s too expensive to eat healthy” is probably the excuse that’s gets my dander up more quickly than any other. With effort and planning, it’s just so NOT true. But trying to convince someone of that is almost always futile as it is simply the excuse they’ve adopted and as we know, changing of mindset has to come from within before it takes hold!

    What a great post, Diane! Thanks!
    Sharon recently posted…Home Is Where The Heart Is!My Profile

  5. Okay, don’t shoot me, people! I spend a lot more on veggies than I ever did on junk food. Just saying.
    Karen recently posted…I’m Not FoolingMy Profile

  6. I went to the convenient store several times a week for a “junk food fix,” and though it was just a couple dollars, those “couple dollars” add up very quickly! I would have saved a lot of money if I would have just resisted the temptation!
    Lori Lynn recently posted…Keep Going OnMy Profile

  7. I accidentally paid $6.50 for 3 avocados. I had no idea I chose the expensive ones until I got home. Then I was curious what an expensive avocado tasted like.

    I sat down alone with just the avocado and ate it slowly. It.was.AMAZING. The aftertaste was fantastic, so fantastic I didn’t want to eat or drink anything for awhile. I felt satisfied.

    It was worth every penny.

    Quality food has true value. Cheap food is just cheap.
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  8. Like Karen, I probably spend more money on produce now than I ever did on junk food back then. But that produce nourishes me, so I figure it is well worth it.
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  9. I’m right there with you. When you stop eating like that, you save money!
    Hanlie recently posted…Can’t stop this thing we startedMy Profile

  10. There’s also a cost in LOSING weight. Specifically I spent over $3,000 in the 2 years it took me to lose 100 pounds on one thing: CLOTHES. I was dropping down sizes so quickly I’d have to buy new clothes almost monthly. Then I’d wear them a few times and they wouldn’t fit anymore. I wish I’d been smarter and just bought used clothes while I lost weight.

  11. Diane, this is so true & the biggest cost of all – I know, not dollars – BUT, the cost of your life ending early if you don’t take control….. a big cost for those that are very heavy or obese…
    Jody – Fit at 53 recently posted…Flax Egg Brown Sugar Happy 1st AnniversaryMy Profile

  12. Obesity cost me two of my organs. I lost my gall bladder when I was 23 and 7 months pregnant with my first child. I lost my uterus 6 years ago due to a massive tumor that no one even knew was there because I was so heavy. Now that I have lost 220+ lbs I would I would gladly pay the thousands of dollars (IF I had them to spend) to part with my stretched out skin. Take note: Even if you lose weight slowly and exercise the whole time (like I did) there is no guarantee your skin will shrink back in size. It is all a matter of genetics, age and extent of damage.
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  13. You are so right about money spent on “junk food.” I gained almost all of my weight on junk food. I have never overeaten on “regular” food, and I am now trying to deal with my cravings for sweets, chocolate, etc. with two weeks on a lower carb plan. I have found that I am spending much less money now than I did before, with all my trips to the DQ, drugstore candy aisle, and having $6.00 desserts at restaurants.

    The price of eating non-nutritious food is very high–in more ways than one. So many of us have paid that price. Thanks for reminding me with your post.

  14. Really, it’s weight challenged now?

    Why not thin deficient?

    • Babbalou says:

      I really like the term “thin deficient” – that’s certainly where I am! I’ve maintained my “not fat” weight for a couple of years now but am hoping to reach “thin” this year.

  15. I guess I spend more money on the healthy food and Organic produce does cost more.

    The flip side to that is we don’t eat out at fast food and we eat most of our meals at home which right there is a huge savings!

  16. I’ve worked for fast food companies for several years. I must say……Ordering a large double patty burger with everything and a large fries will not be balanced out with a Large Diet Soft drink of any kind.
    That being said, yes….saving money and arteries is where most mentalities lie nowadays. fast food is evil! Great article by the way! Working towards my new weight goal, and currently losing 3lbs a week almost on average. Following my dietitians advice on just eating regularly, and exercising 2-4 times a week for 30 minutes at a time.
    That and your advice seems to be a great work out! ;) looking forward to reading more!
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