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Economic Cost of Overweight and Obesity Set to Reach 3.3% of Global GDP by 2060

New peer-reviewed research published in BMJ Global Health predicts that US$2.2 trillion could be saved annually if overweight and obesity prevalence remained at 2019 levels.

The new study by the World Obesity Federation and RTI International, analyses the current economic impact of overweight and obesity in 161 countries. It provides the first-ever country-specific global estimate of the economic impacts of the non-communicable disease (NCD), mainly due to avoidable healthcare costs of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease attributable to obesity.

The facts:

  • The economic impact of overweight and obesity is estimated to rise from 2.19% to 3.3% of GDP in 161 countries, according to the peer-reviewed paper
  • The paper predicts that there would be global annual savings of US$2.2 trillion if overweight and obesity prevalence remained at 2019 levels
  • The biggest increase in cost to GDP will be concentrated in lower-resourced countries, which is expected to be 12-25 times greater than 2019 levels
  • The countries expected to have the largest economic cost of overweight and obesity are China (over $10 trillion), the United States (over $2.5 trillion) and India (nearly $850 billion).

Johanna Ralston, CEO, World Obesity Federation, said: “These estimates of the economic impact of overweight and obesity should alarm governments across the world. The persistent stigmatisation of people living with obesity and policies that do not reflect the most recent evidence have led to failing approaches that ignore obesity’s root causes. This study has highlighted the need for urgent, concerted and holistic action to address the global rise in overweight and obesity prevalence. We can alter this through the right policy and private sector attention to reduce factors in the environment that can cause the non-communicable disease. Doing so will help to boost the wellbeing of people, provide economic gains and improve resilience to disease outbreaks.”

Paper: Okunogbe A, et al. (2022). Economic impacts of overweight and obesity: current and future estimates for 161 countries. BMJ Global Health; https://gh.bmj.com/content/7/9/e009773.

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