Overweight men spend more on prescription drugs than normal-weight men

NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 7 As middle-aged men's weight goes up, so do their monthly costs for prescription drugs to treat heart disease risk factors and weight-related conditions, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2004. In a study of 328 men who participated in a health screening, normal-weight men spent an average of $22.84 per month at the pharmacy. Overweight men averaged $39.27 per month, and obese men spent $80.31 per month about 3.5 times what their normal-weight counterparts spent.

"These are what we call 'real and immediate costs.' These are not the costs associated with an operation or serious event like a heart attack that might happen at some time in the future. Rather, this is what the men, or their employers, spend month after month on their prescription drugs," said Thomas G. Allison, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and a consultant in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The researchers studied male business executives, average age 47, who had been sent by their companies to have physical examinations at Mayo Clinic's Executive Physical program between January 2001 and May 2002. The men, who did not have heart disease and were first-time participants in the program, had a cardiovascular risk factor evaluation as part of their exams.

Allison and his colleagues tallied the cost of drugs prescribed to the men as a result of their examinations. The tally also included the cost of prescriptions for drugs they were already taking.

Allison said that while he and colleagues had embarked on a study looking at something related to obesity, they were somewhat surprised at the health problems associated with the condition.

"We did not expect to see such significant health problems so strongly associated with weight, including degenerative joint disease, depression, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and mor

Contact: Maggie Francis
American Heart Association

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