The Cost of Obesity

The OECD has put out its first report on trends in obesity. The prognosis isn’t good, particularly for the US, particularly for poorer women. Among the highlights:

  • One in 2 people is now overweight or obese in almost half of OECD countries. Rates are projected to increase further and in some countries 2 out of 3 people will be obese within ten years.
  • An obese person incurs 25% higher health expenditures than a person of normal weight in any given year. Obesity is responsible for 1-3% of total health expenditures in most OECD countries (5-10% in the United States).
  • A severely obese person is likely to die 8-10 years earlier than a person of normal weight.
  • Poorly educated women are 2 to 3 times more likely to be overweight than those with high levels of education, but almost no disparities are found for men.
  • Obese people earn up to 18% less than non-obese people.
  • Children who have at least one obese parent are 3 to 4 times more likely to be obese.
  • A comprehensive prevention strategy would avoid, every year, 155 000 deaths from chronic diseases in Japan, 75 000 in Italy, 70 000 in England, 55 000 in Mexico and 40 000 in Canada.
  • The annual cost of such strategy would be USD 12 per capita in Mexico, USD 19 in Japan and England, USD 22 in Italy and USD 32 in Canada. The cost per life year gained through prevention is less than USD 20 000 in these 5 countries.
  • A full press briefing is available here.