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.


Executive summary

An increasing number of people are overweight across the OECD, and this will curb GDP by an estimated 3.3% on average. Health problems linked to expanding waistlines are pushing up workplace absenteeism and lowering productivity as we consume more calories without exercising more. Rising levels of overweight are also damaging our health, wealth and wellbeing, lowering school performance for children, and increasing the risk of unemployment and shortening life expectancy for adults.


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