Obesity and the Economics of Prevention

Fit not Fat

image of Obesity and the Economics of Prevention

Before 1980, rates were generally well below 10%. They have since doubled or tripled in many countries, and in almost half of the OECD, 50% or more of the population is overweight.  A key risk factor for numerous chronic diseases, obesity is a major public health concern.   

This book contributes to evidence-based policy making by exploring multiple dimensions of the obesity problem. It examines the scale and characteristics of the epidemic, the respective roles and influence of market forces and governments, and the impact of interventions. It outlines an economic approach to the prevention of chronic diseases that provides novel insights relative to a more traditional public health approach. 

The analysis was undertaken by the OECD, partly in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The main chapters are complemented by special contributions from health and obesity experts, including Marc Suhrcke, Tim Lobstein, Donald Kenkel and Francesco Branca. 

“a valuable set of results and suggestions about the best preventive interventions to reduce the burden of obesity.”   – Julio Frenk, Dean, Harvard School of Public Health


“The positive message of this book is that the obesity epidemic can be successfully addressed.”   – Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization


“innovative and well-researched”  – Martin McKee, Professor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

"A timely, valuable volume on a critical issue.  Highly recommended."-Choice, July 2011





English Also available in: French

The Size and Risks of the International Epidemic of Child Obesity

In many developed economies child obesity levels doubled between the 1960s and the 1980s, and have doubled again since then (Lobstein et al., 2004). By 2005, one third of all US children were affected by excess body weight, and children in other developed economies have been following the US pattern. Even in emerging and less developed economies, child obesity prevalence levels are also rising (Wang and Lobstein, 2006), especially in urban areas where the need for physical activity is lower and the opportunities for sedentary behaviour and access to energy-dense foods and beverages far greater. As child obesity is strongly predictive of adult obesity and of chronic disease, the child obesity epidemic has been described as “a massive tsunami” (Ludwig, 2005), and “a health time-bomb” (Chief Medical Officer, 2003).

English Also available in: French

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