Background Obesity is a growing public health challenge worldwide with significant health and economic impacts. However, much of what is known about the economic impacts of obesity comes from high-income countries and studies are not readily comparable due to methodological differences. Our objective is to demonstrate a method for estimating current and future national economic impacts of obesity and apply it across a sample of heterogeneous contexts globally. Methods We estimated economic impacts of overweight and obesity for eight countries using a cost-of-illness approach. Direct and indirect costs of obesity from 2019 to 2060 were estimated from a societal perspective as well as the effect of two hypothetical scenarios of obesity prevalence projections. Country-specific data were sourced from published studies and global databases. Results In per capita terms, costs of obesity in 2019 ranged from US$17 in India to US$940 in Australia. These economic costs are comparable to 1.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) on average across the eight countries, ranging from 0.8% of GDP in India to 2.4% in Saudi Arabia. By 2060, with no significant changes to the status quo, the economic impacts from obesity are projected to grow to 3.6% of GDP on average ranging from 2.4% of GDP in Spain to 4.9% of GDP in Thailand. Reducing obesity prevalence by 5% from projected levels or keeping it at 2019 levels will translate into an average annual reduction of 5.2% and 13.2% in economic costs, respectively, between 2020 and 2060 across the eight countries. Conclusion Our findings demonstrate that the economic impacts of obesity are substantial across countries, irrespective of economic or geographical context and will increase over time if current trends continue. These findings strongly point to the need for advocacy to increase awareness of the societal impacts of obesity, and for policy actions to address the systemic roots of obesity.
Economic impacts of overweight and obesity
Current and future estimates for eight countries