Association of obesity and annual health care utilization and spending among long-term cancer survivors

Xuesong Han, Ahmedin Jemal, Zhiyuan Zheng, Leticia Nogueira, Jaya Khushalani, Zhuo Chen, K. Robin Yabroff

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Obesity is associated with a substantial health and economic burden in the general population in the United States. This study estimates the excess health care utilization and medical spending associated with overweight and obesity among long-term cancer survivors. Methods: Long-term cancer survivors (≥2 years after their diagnosis) aged ≥18 years (N = 12,547) were identified from the nationally representative 2008-2016 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. A 2-part modeling approach was used to calculate the average annual care utilization and spending by service type. Excess care utilization and spending associated with overweight (25 kg/m2 ≤ body mass index [BMI] < 30 kg/m2), obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), and severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2), in comparison with normal weight (18.5 kg/m2 ≤ BMI < 25 kg/m2), were estimated. Results: Compared with normal-weight cancer survivors, overweight survivors had comparable care utilization and medical spending; survivors with obesity had an additional $3216 (95% CI, $1940-$4492) of medical spending, including $1243 (95% CI, $417-$2070) on hospital inpatient services and $1130 (95% CI, $756-$1504) on prescriptions per person per year. The excess annual medical spending associated with obesity among long-term cancer survivors translated to $19.7 billion in 2016 in the United States. The excess medical spending was magnified in cancer survivors with severe obesity ($5317 [95% CI, $2849-$7785], which translated to $6.7 billion in 2016). Excess care utilization and medical spending were mostly explained by comorbid conditions related to obesity. Conclusions: For long-term cancer survivors, obesity was associated with increased health care utilization and substantial excess medical spending. This suggests that policies and practices promoting a healthy lifestyle and achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight for cancer survivors may reduce their health care utilization and economic burden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4675-4686
Number of pages12
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2021


  • care utilization
  • economic burden
  • medical spending
  • obesity
  • survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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