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14 January 2014

Excess body mass linked to increasing hospital costs

A new Department of Health report released today, shows that health conditions linked to excess body mass are costing WA's public hospitals more than $240 million a year or 5.4 per cent of total hospital costs.

The cost of excess body mass to the acute hospital system in Western Australia, 2011 study looked at emergency and inpatient expenditure for 18 harms—all of which were known to be associated with excess body mass.

These included osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, hypertensive disease and congestive heart failure.

The report's author, Dr Ben Scalley said the report highlighted some worrying trends.

"Our findings highlight the urgent need to develop policies and programs that address excess body mass in the Western Australian community," Dr Scalley said.

"If current trends continue we can expect the costs of 2011 to have more than doubled by 2021, with projections predicting costs of $488.4 million (in constant price dollars.)

"The three most costly inpatient conditions attributed to excess body mass were osteoarthritis, ischaemic heart disease and type 2 diabetes (excluding renal dialysis).

"The three most costly emergency presentations attributed to excess body mass were ischaemic heart disease, ischaemic stroke and type 2 diabetes mellitus."

Dr Scalley warned that the study's cost estimations were conservative and it was likely that the real costs of extra body mass-associated harms were far higher.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • there were 62,962 inpatient separations attributed to excess body mass in 2011 representing 6.7 per cent of all separations for the year.
  • there were 8655 emergency presentations attributed to excess body mass in 2011, resulting in a cost of $3.7 million.
  • males incurred more costs than females for excess body mass-associated harms.
  • the most costly age group for excess body mass-related harms was the 60–69 year old group, for which there was large expenditure on osteoarthritis.

To view the report visit: www.health.wa.gov.au/publications/subject_index/

Media contact: 9222 4333

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