Obese pre-schoolers have 60 percent higher healthcare costs

Sydney: Obese children aged two to five years old are more likely to be admitted to hospital and have 60 per cent higher healthcare costs than healthy weight children, says a study. The study examined the health care use of 350 children including all doctor and specialist visits, medical tests, diagnostics, medicines, hospital admissions and emergency presentations. Compared with healthy weight children, obese children were more likely to be admitted to hospital -- particularly for respiratory disorders and diseases of the ear, nose, mouth and throat. "Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue, and is becoming an increasing problem in children under five years old," said Alison Hayes, Associate Professor of Health Economics at University of Sydney. The findings were published in the journal Obesity. Worldwide, 6.9 per cent of children under five are overweight or obese, but in countries such as Australia, US, and Britain, the figure may be as high as 23 per cent. "Our results are important for health care funders and policy makers because preventing obesity in the early childhood years may be a cost-effective way to tackle the obesity crisis, improve the nation's health and reduce the economic burden of obesity,” Hayes added.