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It seems that everywhere we look there is an advertisement for a new diet plan or the promotion of a gym membership, and the end is nowhere in sight. More than one-third of all adults in the United States are obese. It’s even a problem among children. Let’s discuss obesity & life insurance. 

» Learn more: The Effects of Childhood Obesity

17 percent of all children aged 2-19 are obese. While 17 percent doesn’t sound like a huge number that’s actually 12.7 million kids, and studies show that obese children are more likely to be obese as adults as well. Obesity in the U.S. has been increasing throughout the years becoming an epidemic.

Obesity is more than just about being overweight. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, cancer, stroke, and numerous other impairments.

While we know obesity takes a toll on one’s health, it also hurts the wallet. The annual medical costs for people who are obese are on average $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. Not to mention, height and weight combined are one of the most important factors when it comes to determining the cost of life insurance.

» Learn more: Height and Weight & Your Life Insurance Application

Obesity is determined by your Body Mass Index (BMI) which is calculated from your height and weight. Life insurance underwriters consider obesity to be a risk factor and the premium costs may reflect that, or an applicant may be declined altogether.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

Case Study #1

Applicant One, who is a 52-year-old non-smoker with a history of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea, underwent successful gastric bypass five years ago with a resultant loss of 65 pounds. Glucose and hemoglobin A1C values have normalized and a recent sleep study showed marked improvement of sleep apnea. The applicant is 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighs 225 pounds, which comes out to a BMI of 32.3.

Although the applicant is still considered obese with this BMI, due to the success of the surgery and improvement in the obesity related conditions Standard Plus Non Tobacco is possible.

Case Study #2

Applicant Two is 38-years-old, 5 feet tall, weighs 250 pounds (BMI is 48.9), and has poorly controlled diabetes. Hospitalization was recently required for elevated blood pressure that caused severe headaches. Prior weight loss attempts were unsuccessful.

This applicant is a decline.

Case Study #3

Applicant Three is 45-years-old, 5 foot 8 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds (BMI is 24.3). While in his 20s, he weighed 230 pounds (BMI 35.0), but when a colleague suffered from a heart attack, he changed his eating habits, began an exercise program, and has been able to maintain his current weight for many years.

He can qualify for Preferred Plus.

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes

As you can see from the examples, obesity doesn’t always mean an automatic decline. Underwriters will take the applicant’s past health into consideration, along with what the applicant is currently doing to improve his/her health.

Regarding obesity & life insurance, if you have recently voluntarily lost quite a bit of weight from diet and exercise, and/or surgical intervention, and plan on applying for life insurance, keep in mind that most life insurance companies will average your weight over the last 12 months versus only considering your current weight. They go this route because some people are not successful maintaining weight loss. If an applicant has kept the weight off for two years or more, many life insurance carriers will then assess them on their current weight.

If an applicant has kept the weight off for 2 years or more, many life insurance carriers will then assess them on their current weight.

Want to see what you’d pay for life insurance?

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Life insurance is important for everyone, but especially if you have people relying on you. If you were to die unexpectedly, your family would be emotionally devastated, but life insurance can at least eliminate the financial stress.

» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator

Contact us for help on applying for life insurance, or simply start by running a term life insurance quote. Running a quote on Quotacy.com is completely anonymous; we do not require any contact information until you are ready to apply. Term life insurance is something you hope to never need to use, but if the unexpected happens your loved ones will be financially protected.


Overweight and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Obesity Epidemic “Astronomical”, WebMd, R.Morgan Griffin
UW Dialogue Issue #9: Obesity, Legal & General America


About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius

Marketing Content Manager

Natasha is a writer and content editor at Quotacy. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. She can't get enough of life insurance and outside of work is also working toward her Chartered Life Underwriter designation. Connect with her on LinkedIn.