Recent studies of diabetes suggest an obesity paradox: mortality risk increases with weight in people without diabetes but decreases with weight in people with diabetes. A recent study also reports the paradox more generally with health care utilization. Whether this paradox in health care utilization and spending is causal or instead the result of empirical biases and confounding factors has yet to be examined in detail. This study set out to examine changes in the relationship between BMI and health care expenditures in populations with versus without diabetes, controlling for confounding risk factors. It found that the obesity paradox does not exist and is the result of statistical biases such as confounding and reverse causation. Obesity is not cost-saving for people with diabetes. Thus, insurers and physicians should renew efforts to prevent obesity in people with diabetes.
This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.17200961.