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Hospitalization of Obese Patients More Than Doubles

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: December 6, 2006

Hospital stays of obese patients increased by 112 percent between 1996 and 2004, rising from 797,000 to 1.7 million, according to a new report by the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The Federal study looked at the hospital stays of patients who were admitted for their obesity and the stays of obese patients hospitalized for other diseases.

The findings relating to patients admitted to the hospital for treatment of obesity include:

  • These patients had 126,000 hospital stays.
  • Most were admitted for gastric bypass or other weight loss surgery.
  • More than half were 18 to 44 years of age.
  • The remaining patients were primarily ages 45 to 64.
  • Women accounted for about 82 percent of all patients admitted for treatment of obesity.
  • Nearly all of the patients hospitalized for treatment of obesity were morbidly obese, meaning they weighed at least two times their ideal weight.
  • Hospital costs for patients admitted for treatment of obesity averaged $11,700 per stay.

The findings related to obese patients who were admitted to the hospital for other treatments include:

  • Obese patients admitted for other diseases accounted for roughly 1.6 million hospital stays.
  • The greatest percentage of patients—7 percent—was hospitalized for hardening of the arteries.
  • Other leading conditions for hospitalization included congestive heart failure, osteoarthritis, skin infections, depression, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Obese patients had higher rates of these conditions than did non-obese patients.
  • Nearly three-quarters of these patients were more than 45 years of age, 64 percent were women, and about one-third of the patients were morbidly obese.
  • Treating these patients cost hospitals an average of $8,800 per stay.

This AHRQ News & Numbers summary is based on findings in HCUP Statistical Brief No. 20: Obese Patients in U.S. Hospitals, 2004 [PDF Help].

To speak with the lead AHRQ author of this report, or for information from previous AHRQ News and Numbers summaries, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of December 2006


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