Economic burden of childhood overweight and obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Obes Rev. 2023 Feb;24(2):e13535. doi: 10.1111/obr.13535. Epub 2022 Nov 27.


To update existing literature and fill the gap in meta-analyses, this meta-analysis quantitatively evaluated the worldwide economic burden (in 2022 US $) of childhood overweight and obesity in comparison with healthy weight. The literature search in eight databases produced 7756 records. After literature screening, 48 articles met the eligibility criteria. The increased annual total medical costs were $237.55 per capita attributable to childhood overweight and obesity. Overweight and obesity caused a per capita increase of $56.52, $14.27, $46.38, and $1975.06 for costs in nonhospital healthcare, outpatient visits, medication, and hospitalization, respectively. Length of hospital stays increased by 0.28 days. Annual direct and indirect costs were projected to be $13.62 billion and $49.02 billion by 2050. Childhood obesity ascribed to much higher increased healthcare costs than overweight. During childhood, the direct medical expenditures were higher for males than for females, but, once reaching adulthood, the expenditures were higher for females. Overall, the lifetime costs attributable to childhood overweight and obesity were higher in males than in females, and childhood overweight and obesity resulted in much higher indirect costs than direct healthcare costs. Given the increased economic burden, additional efforts and resources should be allocated to support sustainable and scalable childhood obesity programs.

Keywords: childhood obesity; costs; economics; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Financial Stress
  • Health Care Costs
  • Health Expenditures
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology