Background Overweight and obesity is a major global public health challenge, and understanding the implications for healthcare systems is essential for policy planning. Past studies have typically found positive associations between obesity and healthcare utilization, but these studies have not taken into consideration that obesity is also associated with early mortality. We examined associations between body mass index (BMI, reported as kg/m2) and healthcare utilization with and without taking BMI-specific survival into consideration. Methods We used nationally representative data on 33 882 adults collected between 2002 and 2015. We computed BMI- and age-specific primary and secondary care utilization and multiplied the estimated values with gender-, age-, and BMI-specific probabilities of surviving to each age. Then, we summed the average BMI-specific utilization between 18 and 85 years. Results During a survival-adjusted lifetime, males with normal weight (BMI: 18.5–24.9) had, on average, 167 primary care, and 77 secondary care contacts. In comparison, males with overweight (BMI: 25.0–29.9), category I obesity (BMI: 30.0–34.9), and category II/III obesity (BMI ≥35.0) had 11%, 41%, and 102% more primary care, and 14%, 29%, and 78% more secondary care contacts, respectively. Females with normal weight had, on average, 210 primary care contacts and 91 secondary care contacts. Females with overweight, category I obesity, and category II/III obesity had 20%, 34%, and 81% more primary care contacts, and 26%, 16%, and 16% more secondary care contacts, respectively. Conclusion The positive association between BMI and healthcare utilization was reduced, but not offset, when BMI-specific survival was taken into consideration. Our findings underpin previous research and suggest that interventions to offset the increasing prevalence of overweight, and especially obesity, are warranted.
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