Open Access Research article

The costs of overweight and obesity-related diseases in the Brazilian public health system: cross-sectional study

Luciana Bahia1*, Evandro Silva Freire Coutinho2, Laura Augusta Barufaldi3, Gabriela de Azevedo Abreu3, Thainá Alves Malhão4, Camila Pepe Ribeiro de Souza5 and Denizar Vianna Araujo1

Author Affiliations

1 Internal Medicine Department, State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and National Institute of Science and Technology for Health Technology Assessment (IATS) – CNPq/Brazil, Blv. 28 de Setembro 77 – 3rd floor – room 329, Vila Isabel, ZIP 20551-030, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Brazil

2 National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Leopoldo Bulhões Street, 1480, Manguinhos, ZIP 21041-210, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Brazil

3 Institute for Studies in Public Health, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Blv. Horácio Macedo, No number - Fundão Island, University City, ZIP 21941-598, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Brazil

4 City Department of Health and Civil Defense of Rio de Janeiro (SMSDC-RJ), Afonso Cavalcanti Street, 455, 8th floor, room 801, New Town, ZIP 20211-110, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Brazil

5 Medinsight Decisions in Health Care, Hollywood Street, 330, Brooklin, ZIP 04564-040, São Paulo/SP, Brazil

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:440  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-440

Published: 18 June 2012



Obesity is a major global epidemic and a burden to society and health systems. It is well known risk factor for a number of chronic medical conditions with high morbidity and mortality. This study aimed to provide an estimate of the direct costs associated to outpatient and inpatient care of overweight and obesity related diseases in the perspective of the Brazilian Health System (SUS).


Population attributable risk (PAR) was calculated for selected diseases related to overweight and obesity and with the following parameters: Relative risk (RR) ≥ 1.20 or RR ≥1.10 and < 1.20, but important problem of public health due its high prevalence. After a broad search in the literature, two meta-analysis were selected to provide RR for PAR calculation. The prevalence rates of overweight and obesity in Brazilians with ≥18 years were obtained from large national survey. The national health database (DATASUS) was used to estimate the annual cost of the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS) with the diseases included in the analysis. The extracted values were stratified by sex, type of service (inpatient or outpatient care) and year. Data were collected from 2008 to 2010 and the results reflect the average of 3 years. Brazilian costs were converted into US dollars during the analysis using a purchasing power parity basis (2010).


The estimated total costs in one year with all diseases related to overweight and obesity are US$ 2,1 billion; US$ 1,4 billion (68.4% of total costs) due to hospitalizations and US$ 679 million due to ambulatory procedures. Approximately 10% of these cost is attributable to overweight and obesity.


The results confirm that overweight and obesity carry a great economic burden for Brazilian health system and for the society. The knowledge of these costs will be useful for future economic analysis of preventive and treatment interventions.

Overweight; Obesity; Costs; Brazil