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How Much Does It Cost per Pound to be Overweight?

Updated on September 17, 2013
drpennypincher profile image

Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.

Your "Fat Bank" Account Reserve- Hidden Assets

Did you know the average American is carrying over $700 of hidden asset reserves at all times? And no one is getting paid any interest on this asset. In fact, most people would like to get rid of this asset. And it would be good if they did. Most people are sitting on a reserve of money in a fat bank account that they do not know about- or want.

What is this hidden asset, and how can you tap into it?

Extra Weight Costs Extra Money

"The average american is now 23 pounds overweight..."

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC press briefing, July 27, 2009.

Gaining 23 extra pounds isn't cheap. Extra weight is an unintentional, and undesirable reserve. People have real money tied up in the extra weight they have packed on, and they are getting no benefit from their "investment" in extra weight. People can turn their reserve of extra weight into cash by reducing their calorie intake- and thus reducing the amount they spend on food.

Big Mac weighs in at 550 calories
Big Mac weighs in at 550 calories | Source

Hidden Asset: A Pound of Flesh

So how many calories does it take to gain an extra pound of weight? Pure fat contains about 4,086 calories of energy. Fat in the body contains other materials and a pound of body fat contains about 3,500 calories. The conversion of food into energy (or fat) by the body is not 100% efficient, but more like 85% efficient. Therefore a person must consume about 4,100 calories of food to produce a pound of body fat.

Of course calories aren't free. The cost of these extra calories depends on the type of food. For example, inexpensive food such as bread, candy bars, and soda cost about 50 cents per 200 calories. For between 50 cents to $1 you can buy foods such as chili, fries, cereal, mixed nuts, and some fast food. More expensive foods such as fruits, veggies, meats, some fast food, and restaurant food are $1 or much more per 200 calories. For example, a Big Mac that costs $4.20 and has 550 calories costs about $1.50 per 200 calories.

Eating extra calories while gaining weight is like making deposits into a "fat bank" account. Why not withdraw the cash from this account and use it for other things?

Table: Cost per 200 calories for food types
Table: Cost per 200 calories for food types | Source

How Do I Turn my Extra Weight into Cash?

Let's say you are an average American, 23 pounds overweight. This is your hidden asset. Let's say you have decided to turn your extra weight into cash by cutting out some unhealthy food from your diet. This reduces the amount of calories you need to consume, and therefore how much money you spend. How much is your 23 pounds of extra weight worth?

Let's assume you will keep the healthier items in your diet and cut less healthy (and more expensive) items such as fast food. We'll use the Big Mac as an example of the type of food you may want to reduce from your diet. One pound of extra weight, or intake of 4,100 calories, is equivalent to 7.5 Big Macs at a cost of $31. This is for one pound of extra weight. The average American is 23 pounds overweight, bringing the value of the "reserve" to 23 x $31 = $720!

So if you are dieting by reducing your intake of Big Macs or similarly-priced calories, you can save $720 on your food cost by the time you reach ideal weight.

Turn your hidden asset into cash!

Table: Savings from reduced food cost during weight loss
Table: Savings from reduced food cost during weight loss | Source

Penny Pinching Tips:

  • Turn your extra weight into cash!
  • Losing extra weight is not only healthy, you can reduce your food cost significantly as you burn your extra body fat rather than burning your cash
  • Start a sensible weight loss plan based on reducing calories that you consume
  • Focus on reducing expensive, high fat calories such as fast food and restaurant food
  • The average american could save over $700 through reduced food costs as they lose their extra weight
  • Start tapping into your hidden "fat bank" account today!

© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher


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    • drpennypincher profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Penny Pincher 

      6 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Articleshome, cutting or reducing fast food and unhealthy items from your diet is the easiest way to start losing extra weight. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Cutting unhealthy food from the diet is utmost important to lose Extra weight. Good topic.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Yes! Let the plant sequester for you, then eat it. Well done!

    • drpennypincher profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Penny Pincher 

      7 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Nicomp, I like the rechargable battery idea. Exhaling has become a habit for me, so I'll get a plant to absorb the CO2- and then eat the plant...

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Burn calories by riding a stationary bike connected to a rechargeable battery. Just don't exhale -- CO2 and all that.


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