Economic impact of overweight and obesity set to reach 3.3% of global GDP by 2060
New peer-reviewed research published today in BMJ Global Health predicts that US$2.2 trillion could be saved annually if overweight and obesity prevalence remained at 2019 levels
- The economic impact of overweight and obesity is estimated to rise from 2.19% to 3.3% of GDP in 161 countries, according to a paper peer-reviewed and published in BMJ Global Health
- The paper predicts that there would be global annual savings of US$2.2 trillion if overweight and obesity prevalence remained at 2019 levels
- The biggest increase in cost to GDP will be concentrated in lower-resourced countries, which is expected to be 12-25 times greater than 2019 levels
- The countries expected to have the largest economic cost of overweight and obesity are China (over $10 trillion), the United States (over $2.5 trillion) and India (nearly $850 billion).
New York, 21 September 2022: Overweight and obesity prevalence is set to cost the global economy 3.3% of GDP by 2060, according to a new study by the World Obesity Federation and RTI International.
The study, which was peer-reviewed and published today in BMJ Global Health, analyses the current economic impact of overweight and obesity in 161 countries. It provides the first-ever country-specific global estimate of the economic impacts of the non-communicable disease (NCD), mainly due to avoidable healthcare costs of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease attributable to obesity.
The impact to GDP is projected to increase as a result of the rising prevalence of obesity, population changes and economic growth. The study found that if the number of people living with obesity remained at 2019 levels, US$2.2 trillion could be saved. A 5% reduction in the projected prevalence of the NCD between 2020 and 2060 would result in an average of US$429 billion in global annual savings.
The countries expected to have the largest economic cost of overweight and obesity are China, the United States and India. It is predicted to cost China over $10 trillion, the United States over $2.5 trillion and India nearly $850 billion. Other countries with the economic costs of overweight and obesity projected to exceed $100 billion include Germany, Canada, Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Japan. Of all those countries, it is expected to cost the United Arab Emirates the highest proportion of GDP (11.04%).
Currently, it is estimated the economic impact of obesity is costing 2.19% of global GDP. The estimated economic loss per capita in 2019 ranges from US$6 in lower-income countries and US$1,110 in higher-income countries – which is also a reflection of the wage and GDP difference in those regions. That’s equivalent to 0.87% and 2.46% of GDP respectively.
The World Obesity Federation and RTI International’s estimates analyse both direct and indirect costs. The former includes medical and non-medical expenses while the latter includes the costs in the process of seeking formal healthcare, such as the cost of travel for patients and caregivers. Other indirect costs include economic loss from premature mortality, missed days of work, and reduced productivity while at work.
Medical fees make up nearly all (99.8%) of direct costs on average across all countries. The cost of premature mortality contributes to a significant portion (69.1% on average) of all indirect costs. Indirect costs have a greater impact on GDP than direct costs (61-88% vs 12-39% across income groups respectively). Previous studies have focused solely on the latter, capturing a small fraction of the impact overweight and obesity have on the economy.
The study comes after the World Obesity Federation estimated earlier this year that one billion people will be living with obesity by 2030. Last year with RTI International, the organisation launched a pilot study for the economic impact of overweight and obesity, focusing on eight countries. The World Obesity Federation is calling for world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly to address the root cause of overweight and obesity through systemic solutions, rather than focusing on individual responsibility.
Johanna Ralston, CEO, World Obesity Federation said:
“These estimates of the economic impact of overweight and obesity should alarm governments across the world. The persistent stigmatisation of people living with obesity and policies that do not reflect the most recent evidence have led to failing approaches that ignore obesity’s root causes. This study has highlighted the need for urgent, concerted and holistic action to address the global rise in overweight and obesity prevalence. We can alter this through the right policy and private sector attention to reduce factors in the environment that can cause the non-communicable disease. Doing so will help to boost the wellbeing of people, provide economic gains and improve resilience to disease outbreaks.”
Dr. Rachel Nugent, Vice President for Global Noncommunicable Diseases at RTI International said:
“We shouldn’t be surprised about the projected increases in obesity when we contemplate the many factors that make it hard for people to lead healthy lives. The take-home lesson from this research is that countries and companies have strong economic incentives to help people and workers be healthy and avoid the high costs of obesity-related diseases.”
Download our study and press release
The Economic Impact of Overweight & Obesity in 2020 and 2060
2nd Edition with Estimates for 161 CountriesDownload (5.94 MB)
Economic cost of overweight and obesity set to reach 3.3% of global GDP by 2060
New peer-reviewed research published today in BMJ Global Health predicts that US$2.2 trillion could be saved annually if overweight and obesity prevalence remained at 2019 levelsDownload (943.54 KB)