The Heavy Burden of Obesity

The Economics of Prevention

image of The Heavy Burden of Obesity

Almost one in four people in OECD countries is currently obese. This epidemic has far-reaching consequences for individuals, society and the economy. Using microsimulation modelling, this book analyses the burden of obesity and overweight in 52 countries (including OECD, European Union and G20 countries), showing how overweight reduces life expectancy, increases healthcare costs, decreases workers' productivity and lowers GDP. The report makes the urgent economic case to scale up investments in policies to promote healthy lifestyles and tackle this growing global public health problem. The book evaluates a number of policies which could significantly improve health outcomes while being an excellent investment for countries.


Impact of obesity policies on health and the economy

This chapter presents results from modelling the implementation of ten policy actions including food labelling; menu labelling; mass media campaigns promoting physical activity; prescribing physical activity in primary care; mobile apps promoting healthy lifestyles; workplace wellness programmes; workplace sedentary behaviour programmes; school-based programmes; expanded public transport and statutory bans on advertising targeting children. In addition, the impact of three policy packages is shown, including a package of mostly existing, communication-based policies; a package of physical activity-based policies; as well as a mixed package of policies that are still relatively rarely implemented in OECD countries, but nevertheless show significant promise. Results are presented for 36 countries, including OECD countries in the European Region as well as Japan, Mexico, Canada, and Australia, together with other non-OECD EU28 member states and South Africa. A particularly innovative aspect of this analysis is its focus not only on health outcomes, but also on economic outcomes, including the policy impact on health spending, on the employment and productivity of workers, as well as on the gross domestic product (GDP) of countries.




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