New OECD Report - ‘The Heavy Burden of Obesity - The Economics of Prevention’

NewsNew OECD Report - 'The Heavy Burden of Obesity - The Economics of Prevention'

The World Obesity Federation welcomes today’s report by the OECD on the economic impact of obesity

Overweight and obesity rates continue to grow across the globe and not one country in the world has managed to reverse the obesity epidemic. We know that this is a phenomenon that, sadly, is not limited to adults. Today’s report provides a compelling – and alarming – insight into the effect on children.

It impacts upon performance at school and attendance in higher education. Children living with obesity are overwhelmingly likely to become the next generation of adults that are at risk of the chronic diseases to which obesity acts as a gateway, such as diabetes. The first global atlas on childhood obesity published last week by the World Obesity Federation shows that no country has a better than fifty percent chance of meeting their target for tackling childhood obesity by 2025.

Far too many people’s quality of life is negatively impacted by obesity. The World Obesity Federation has been calling for the prevention, treatment and management of obesity to be included as part of essential health services within universal health coverage and the OECD report makes a strong case for prevention packages to be prioritised by the governments of OECD countries.

But what is particularly startling about today’s report is the economic impact of obesity. OECD countries currently spend 8.4% of their health budgets on treating obesity-related diseases. This figure will only continue to grow if the governments of OECD countries do not prioritise obesity. The burden on health systems is unsustainable and the report makes a powerful case for interventions that target entire populations, such as the display of nutritional information on food items and menus, while also recognising that obesity can be addressed in the health system.  The World Obesity Federation recognises obesity as a disease and supports a comprehensive approach from prevention to management and from the individual to the whole of society.

We congratulate the OECD for a report that emphasises not just the physical danger inherent in the obesity epidemic; but also, the severe economic and healthcare burden that will continue to affect countries if the myriad underlying causes of obesity are left unchecked and long overdue interventions are not implemented. We believe the OECD’s report provides a clear case for government leaders to take action on obesity now, and look forward to working with the OECD in the coming months and years to ensure that health for all is a reality rather than an unfulfilled promise.