The prevalence of childhood obesity in Arkansas is among the highest in the U.S. By virtue of the negative association between socio-economic status and risk of obesity, Arkansas Medicaid enrollees are likely to bear a disproportionate burden from obesity-related conditions and their associated expenditures.
Previous reports from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) and others have documented the effects of obesity on the likelihood of experiencing a variety of medical conditions. This report is a longitudinal assessment of obesity-associated conditions in school-aged children, the Medicaid costs related to these conditions, and the costs in early adulthood among patients who were obese in childhood. Using Arkansas school BMI assessments and Medicaid claims, we were able to identify the age at which children become obese and to describe how weight status changes as children age. We were able to identify medical conditions associated with obesity in Arkansas children, including previously described and newly identified conditions, and to describe the prevalence of these conditions at each grade level. Finally, we were able to measure the costs associated with obesity that were incurred by Medicaid during school years, as well as in current young adults who were known to be obese when they were in elementary and secondary school.