How Weight Affects Life Insurance Rates

If you’ve put on a little weight this past winter, your life insurance probably won’t change much. But any more than a little, and you can expect to pay for it.

As a nation, we’re getting fatter.  This is a huge concern for life insurance companies since obesity leads to a host of other health issues. So what’s the cost of being obese?


Behind your Burger:

While nothing beats a well-made hamburger, you’re generally better off grilling out at home than heading to a restaurant to get your burger fix. Like many delectable items found on a restaurant menu, the hidden calories in restaurant burgers can have you eating twice as much than you would normally in one sitting. So before you sink your teeth into that juicy piece of meat, read this list of the top 7 worst burgers in America.

*Note: The nutrition information was verified using the nutrition charts of each restaurant:

#1: Denny’s Smokin’ Q Three Pack: With a combined 2,020 calories, 110 grams of fat (22 grams saturated, 3 grams trans fats) and 3,570 mg of sodium, this “little” snack stacks up to being the equivalent of three meals, with more than the daily requirements of fat and sodium in each bite.

#2: Cheesecake Factory Ranch House Burger: This monster of sautéed onions and bacon weighs in at a staggering 1,941 calories, 48 grams of saturated fat, and 2,877 milligrams of sodium. Not as bad as the #1 contender, but when compared to the Cheesecake Factory’s alternative; The Factory Burger, with 737 calories, 15 grams saturated fat and 1,638 milligrams sodium, it looks a little obscene.

#3: Chili’s Jalapeno Smokehouse Bacon Burger: Although compared to its predecessors above, this burger’s 1,750 calories don’t seem too bad. But its whopping 123 grams of fat (40 grams saturated) and 5,250 milligrams of sodium definitely make up for it.

#4: Ruby Tuesday Triple Prime Havarti Burger: This “gourmet” burger may look skinny, but its 1,465 calories, 116 grams of fat, and 2,404 milligrams of sodium are anything but.

#5: Red Robin A.1. Peppercorn Burger: Like the Ruby Tuesday burger, Red Robin’s has a measly 1,433 calories, and 97 grams of fat. The catch to this burger is its 5,618 milligrams of sodium, making it the most sodium-laden burger in this list!

#6: Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger:You guessed it, they replaced the bun with a tortilla. At 1,420 calories, 104 grams of fat (43 grams saturated, 3 grams trans) and 3,740 milligrams of sodium, this thing is a huge plate of fatty disaster. Not to mention, burger purists might not classify it as a burger if it’s not on a bun.

#7: Wendy’s Triple Baconator: Considering how “little” a fast food burger is, this one’s 1,350 calories, 90 grams of fat (40 grams saturated, 3.5 grams trans) and 2,780 milligrams of sodium are a huge shock. Especially considering Wendy’s has a healthier alternative in the Wendy’s Double Stack with 3 strips of bacon at 400 calories, 21 grams of fat (9 grams saturated, 1 grams trans) and 990 milligrams sodium that won’t have you scheduled for coronary bypass surgery after eating it.

“People who are obese are at a higher risk for serious conditions like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis (a common joint disorder) and certain kinds of cancers,” said Dr. Don Behan, Senior Research Associate at Georgia State University’s Center for Risk Management and Insurance Research. “When insurers are evaluating a person, his or her length of life is often discussed in terms of life expectancy.  Mortality depends on age, gender, health status, habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol and participation in dangerous activities.”

Obesity is determined by the amount of body fat a person has relative to their muscle, bone and organ tissue. The sum of body mass is a simple mathematical calculation determined by your height and weight, and compared to a standardized body mass index (BMI) chart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists an overweight adult as having a BMI between 25 and 29.9. An obese adult would have a BMI of 30 or higher.

Hypothetically, if a 55-year-old male nonsmoker with a BMI of 38 wanted to get about $250,000 of life insurance , he would be paying an estimated annual premium of $4,256. If a 55-year-old male nonsmoker with a BMI under 30 wanted the same amount of life insurance, he would pay $3,767 annually, according to Dave Redpath, Assistant Vice President of Underwriting at Hartford Life. While these are estimated numbers, the fact remains: the higher the BMI, the harder your wallet will get hit, not just for life insurance, but for potential health issues down the road.

Women at Risk

If you are an obese female, you are unfortunately at higher risk for endometrial, breast and colon cancer.

“Adult females seem to be impacted more by obesity than males when it comes to certain cancers,”  said Behan. “There hasn’t been a link between prostate cancer and obesity.”

Some experts believe BMI is not the best way to measure obesity. Behan said life insurance companies would not use BMI as a sole measurement, but would also take into account things like family history and body fat percentage.

“It is possible for a person to have an ‘unhealthy BMI’ because they are very muscular, but in a general population, this is an exception to the rule and BMI is a good standardized tool to gauge healthy weight,” said Behan.

If you would like to know your BMI, you can check out the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s free Body Mass Index Calculator.

To get low cost life insurance and avoid potentially devastating medical bills in the future, the answer is fairly straightforward: a healthy diet, exercise and a healthy weight are the best way to go. If you join a wellness program at work or hire a personal trainer to lose weight, document your progress and tell your insurer. This will help your agent fairly evaluate your current health status, and potentially land you in a lower rate category. Keep in mind, folks who are underweight can also be charged higher rates for insurance, said Redpath. The key to getting good rates is obtaining a healthy bodyweight.

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