Reboot Radio

How I Saved $1.3 Million by Losing Weight! (And you can, too!) The High Co$t of $taying Overeweight or Obese!

April 02, 2023 Sheila Keilty Season 1 Episode 7
Reboot Radio
How I Saved $1.3 Million by Losing Weight! (And you can, too!) The High Co$t of $taying Overeweight or Obese!
Show Notes Transcript

The diagnosis of Obesity - and it IS a disease that has a metric for diagnosis - is determined by one's Body Mass Index (BMI). It is calculated in a formula based on your height and weight. Everyone who's ever been overweight knows this chart. It seems rather arbitrary, and it's often criticized as a poor diagnostic tool because it doesn't account for a person's bone or muscle mass, age, or even gender on some charts. 

Nonetheless, your BMI level DOES give you and your physician a clearer upper-end limit after which there are more consequences beyond simple excess fat that are associated specifically with the illness of Obesity. 

And the costs associated with Obesity really add up!

Hello and welcome to Reboot Radio. I'm your host, Sheila Keilty, the UN-Diet Coach. 

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 Today's episode, we're going to be talking about how I saved $1.3 million by losing weight and how you can too: the high cost of staying overweight or obese. 

Does it really cost more to be overweight or obese compared to losing the weight? Well, getting an obese diagnosis from your doctor stings. I remember when mine walked in and said, "the problem is you are obese." I said, "well, that's rude." And he said, "it's not rude. It's a diagnosis."

I've had that conversation, and the O word is really hard to hear. I know. I really thought that I was just overweight and I could lose weight anytime I wanted to, but that's not always the case. There are all kinds of factors related to my ability to lose weight, like the new dynamics of food and how the body works, and I just didn't know it yet.

I had more than a hundred pounds to lose, was over 50 years old, postmenopausal and disabled from multiple spinal surgeries, and unable to exercise like I used to. Losing weight with all those factors was a real head scratcher, and my doctors were no help at all. They'd completely thrown up their hands and given up on helping me to get thinner or healthier.

Pre-diabetes quickly became full-blown type two diabetes with all the medications associated with it and the meds for those meds. All my insurance medical costs went up. I was missing work more and more, and suddenly I found myself more and more fat.

So what had happened? Had being obese really drained my accounts, and what was this going to cost me over my lifetime if I didn't do something. 

Well, first of all, let's understand obesity, how it differs from being overweight and what it does to our bodies. The diagnosis of obesity and it is a disease that has a metric for diagnosis, is determined by one's body mass index or BMI. It's calculated in a formula based on height and weight. Everyone who's ever been overweight knows this chart. It seems rather arbitrary and it's often criticized as a poor diagnostic tool because it doesn't account for a person's bone or muscle mass age or even gender on some charts. Nonetheless, your BMI does give you, and your physician, a clear upper end limit after which there are more consequences beyond simple excess fat that's associated specifically with the illness of obesity.

For example, in a five foot five woman, which I am most women, that's an average height in the US five four to 5'5" at 145 pounds, she has a BMI of around 24, which is normal and healthy. But at only five pounds more at 150, she goes into overweight, and by 180 pounds, her BMI jumps to 30 and is considered obese.


Sure, these are just numbers, but remember, fat is a state, obesity is a disease with real life consequences. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to an extent that it may have a negative health effect.

Crossing the threshold to obesity, classified as a disease by the CMS since 2004, and a disease and disability in 2013 by the American Medical Association, signals that the body is experiencing metabolic unhealth that is on an inevitable collision course with type two diabetes, heart disease, and even 11 types of cancers.

It is nothing to ignore If you're obese, you most definitely are at least on the edge of a type two  diabetes diagnosis with insulin resistance. Known as hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance is a condition where the body has overproduced insulin to handle the load of carbohydrates and sugars in the diet to the point at which it can no longer process it, and the body stops reacting correctly. Thereby storing fat at alarming rates.

And obesity is not all your fault. Obesity is a disease that's influenced by both biology and genetics, to some extent. It should not be framed as an individual's choice or a lifestyle.  Yes, there are lifestyle components that contribute primarily to the extent of the disease, but it's a real disease and should be treated as one, but it rarely is.

The good news is that prevention and care for obesity are synergistic, meaning that the disease treatment and preventing it from happening again are very real and very possible. However, society's bias and stigma placed on people suffering with obesity and type two diabetes gets in the way of both prevention and care.

The shame and stigma of the diagnosis also leads to more people ignoring their condition, hiding their health issues, and getting sicker and sicker as a result, every single day. The obese are considered as slow unemployable, emotionally weak, or have no quote unquote willpower. Obese people are also often treated disparagingly by the medical community who are statistically 57% obese themselves. These doctors have been dispensing bad medical advice for decades laden with victim blaming. The detrimental psychological ill effects of ridicule that accompany obesity such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem are in fact perpetuated by the very doctors they are relying upon to help them to become well. These "food fables" are the old chestnuts, "like eat less, move more," and "calories in, calories out," which have been disproven over and over as "stale science" with new findings over the last several decades. Heck, and for that conventional wisdom worked. We'd all be thin and fit, right? 

And you're not alone. If you're obese in America today, you're in the majority! Once considered only a condition more regionally prevalent, obesity is now charted in the high percentages in all 50 states. That means:

  • 160 million Americans are pre-obese or obese.
  • 60% of American women are obese
  • 30% of American children under the age of 20 are obese, and it's growing up from 19%. In the 1990s when the new food pyramid came out, ( go figure)! 
  • Severe obesity nearly doubled from 4.7% to 9.2% in the last 20 years alone. 

Now there's a whole avalanche of associated diseases and comorbidities. Things like:

  • type two diabetes
  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • heart disease like hypertension
  • atherosclerosis strokes
  • sleep apnea
  • acid reflux
  • mental illness
  • pelvic collapse
  • osteoarthritis, and damage to the weightbearing joints, especially knees, 
  • autoimmune diseases
  • varicose veins, and other circulatory issues
  • skin lesions that do not heal or require chronic wound care
  • gallstones and gallbladder diseases and conditions
  • and 11 different types of cancers. 

 The indirect costs of obesity and overweight are harder to identify and quantify than direct costs. Indirect costs defined as resources were gone as a result of a health condition and are both physical and emotional.

Indirect physical costs include:

  • value of lost work
  • days missed from work are a cost both to employees in lost wages and employers and work not completed
  • obese employees missed more days from work due to short-term absences
  • greater long-term disability and premature death than non-obese employees
  • obese and ill employees may also work less than full capacity, also known as presenteeism
  • Insurance costs go up
  • employers pay higher life insurance premiums and pay out more workers' compensation for employees who are obese than for employees who are not
  • individuals who pay their own insurance premium pay much higher costs than their non-obese counterparts.

And wages! Some studies have shown that obesity is associated with lower wages and lower household combined incomes by as much as 28% and obese employees make on average 57% less. 

Then there's indirect emotional costs: mental illness, depression levels are doubled in anxiety-related phobias such as agoraphobia are  tripled in obese individuals.

Lost opportunities in life take its toll, like job hires, promotion, and the lower wages we talked about. Then there's lost life plans and "normal" markers. Things like: lower economics means lower quality of food. Marriage rates are lower, the rate of children is lower, lifespan is lower, quality of life is worse, and there's limited travel opportunities for the obese. 


The direct cost of obesity and overweight can be pointed to tangibly as real hard numbers that can be quantified and tallied. These include: 

  • medical copays
  • uncovered prescriptions and services
  • disability
  • and even loss productivity. 

In 2016, an estimated 47% of total direct and indirect costs of chronic disease were associated with chronic diseases caused by obesity and overweight, according to In fact, a weight loss of just 5% could save patients with a BMI of 40 or above an estimated $2,137 annually.

Here's an example. People with a BMI of 30 or above, so Obesely diagnosed people, have a 27% increase in physical visits and outpatient costs to their doctors. A 46% increase in inpatient costs and an 80% increase in spending on prescription drugs. 

Now let's do a little math. The price tag for severely overweight and obese individuals can come to over $3,500 a year and nearly double that cost for obese women who rack up close to $6,500 in costs annually.

Some may not realize that the impact of such a price tag over a year, it's hard to see just in a year's time what kind of effect that will have. So consider this.  Investing that $3,500 or $6,500 annually over 40 years would net out a comfortable retirement fund of $700,000 for men. And you'd have over a million dollars in the bank for women if you just invested the extra cost that you're not spending on being overweight.

Doing all the numbers was my wake up call. So let's look at some real numbers for a real person. Me. So when I heard about this years ago, I sat down with a old pencil and paper and a calculator, and it shocked me. These were tallied based on my own real costs I saw piling up over the next 30 to 40 years.

They don't include regular medical expenses that I would normally have, but rather the overages due   directly and indirectly to my severe obesity in resulting medical and disability issues. 

  • Surgery copays would cost me an additional $150,000
  • Prescription copays, $40,000
  • Having an attendant or nurse for the last 10 years of my life would be $300,000.
  • Loss of income would be $750,000
  • Long-term care insurance, $180,000. Much more so if I went to a long-term care facility, let's assume I was able to get long-term care insurance. That's what that would cost me. 
  • Mobility devices such as special transport, $25,000. 

That comes to a whopping $1.345 million over my lifetime, and that doesn't include the cost-of-living increases, that's in today's dollars! 

So even if I'm off by half, I am on crack and it's just not the number, it's still almost three quarters of a million dollars that I don't have. That's not investing it. That's just cost. 

So what are YOUR numbers?


Go to The link will be in the transcription for this episode and you can go to it and download the ebook that's associated with this episode. And in there is a form that you can use to figure out what your numbers are.

The Dalai Lama has a, has a saying, "grass grows where you water it." What he means is what you focus on will become the thing that grows in your life. You put energy into one thing over another, and that is what will bloom and grow. The same goes for your approach to your health. You have to feed your health, not your illness for that to happen.

Sometimes this refers to actually feeding something. The food you're choosing every day, several times a day, can be healthy and supportive of the choices you're making in your life, or they can be unsupportive choices that kick the wellness can down the road even further, then the consequences only snowball.

So here are five tips to support supportive food.   Number one. Make a plan. The old saying, "failing to plan is planning to fail "also applies here. A plan will help you to state your intentions and be prepared with good choices at hand. Number two, shop the outer perimeters of the grocery store, that's produce meat, dairy primarily, and avoid the processed inner junk in the middle of the aisles of the supermarket. Number three, announce your intentions to your support squad of family, coworkers and besties, the ones you know will have your back. Let 'em know that you're on this journey to get healthy, first and foremost, and appreciate in advance they're helping you to stick to your plans. You are going to be so surprised who's willing to step up and help you to be well, and some people may even join you on your journey.

Start a journal, even if you've never written one before, start now. It'll go a long way to keeping track of your journey's, ups and downs, and make sense of it all. And number five, keep tabs on the things that are costing less. This includes the big expenses, like when you only need one seat on an airplane, as well as the little ones like giving up snack foods.

And write down how many snacks you didn't have. And note the cost of your jour in your journal. It all adds up and at the end of the month or two, use an excess to B. Use the excess to buy yourself a smaller pair of jeans because after a couple months of doing these things, you may actually need them.

Sometimes this refers to a more indirect feeding, like when you stop beating yourself up and start practicing mindful self-compassion. This healthier habit of positive self-talk will bloom into the person you envision yourself becoming. See it as if it is right now, and before you know it, that vision will catch up with your reality.

So I encourage you all to go look up your BMI. You can Google BMI calculator anywhere on Google, and you can find them. Just type in your height and weight. Some ask your gender and age. Those are better ones that ask those. It's a closer metric, but it'll give you a swing at the battle. It'll give you an idea of where you are and where you need to go and be.

And if you're 30 or above, start taking action. Use some of these points and also download the workbook that is internal to this, the flipbook on this topic and go down to the report that is this one that we're doing on this episode, and check out the workbook pages and figure out your own expenses that there are. (

I really hope that I've given you some ideas to find your way through to making the changes that you need to make and seeing the impact in dollars and cents sometimes can really be the wake up call that you need. For me, it was, it was massive to find that out and to make those changes.  There are such benefits beyond the finances, of course in lifestyle and quality of life once you get to the other side of not being obese any longer and I wish that for all of you. Thanks for listening.


So take care. This is Coach Sheila Keilty. Have a great day. Bye now. See you next time on Reboot Radio.