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It has been nearly a decade since the OECD published its flagship report on obesity, Fit not Fat. During the intervening years, countries have put in place innovative and, in some cases, ambitious policies to turn the tide on the obesity epidemic.

Unfortunately, though, the end is not in sight yet. Overweight and obesity rates have continued to climb to 58% of the adult population across OECD countries. Childhood and morbid obesity have gone from a rare event to a common occurrence. Obesity now poses an alarming burden on individuals, societies and economies in OECD countries and beyond.

This report demonstrates that there is a strong economic case for investing in prevention to tackle obesity. By linking its advanced microsimulation model with the OECD long-term projection model, this report simulates the impact of obesity on health expenditure and the wider economy in 52 countries to 2050. The analysis shows how obesity not only reduces life expectancy but also damages pupils’ school performances, workforce productivity, and negatively impacts GDP.

But there is a good news. Every dollar spent on preventing obesity generates an economic return of up to six dollars – making prevention interventions an excellent investment. Different policy packages can reduce this burden while saving money.

This report is a clear illustration of how better policies can lead to better lives. By investing in prevention, policymakers have the opportunity to halt the rise in obesity for future generations, and benefit economies. There is no more excuse for inaction.

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© OECD 2019

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