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Obesity Costs Global Economy £2 Trillion

November 21, 2014
Public Health

fatA report from the McKinsey Global Institute has put the cost of obesity to the world’s economy at a staggering £2 trillion. Over 30% of the global population are now overweight or obese, with the figure set to rise to almost half the adult population in the next 15 years. Experts warn that obesity is now a greater cost to the UK economy than war and terrorism.

Chief nutritionist at Public Health England (PHE) Dr Alison Tedstone admitted there is no single solution to overcoming the issue: “Overweight and obesity is a complex problem which requires action across individual and societal levels involving industry, national and local government and the voluntary sector,” she said. “Today, 25% of the nation is obese and 37% is overweight. If we reduce obesity to 1993 levels, where 15% of the population were obese, we will avoid five million disease cases and save the NHS alone an additional £1.2bn by 2034.”

Researchers studied 74 interventions being used around the world to address obesity, finding enough evidence to suggest that 44 are making significant impact on the problem. These included subsidised school meals for all, calorie and nutrition labelling, restrictions on advertising high calorie food and drink, and public health campaigns. The report’s authors admit that the evidence base on the clinical and behavioral interventions to reduce obesity is far from complete, and ongoing investment in research is an imperative in the future.

You can download a copy of ‘How the world could better fight obesity’ here