The obesity problem is only in its infancy: by 2060 it could reach an average cost of 3.6% of a country’s GDP

The obesity problem is only in its infancy: by 2060 it could reach an average cost of 3.6% of a country's GDP

According to a new study of models from 8 countries, published in the journal of BMJ Global Health , the economic impact of obesity is projected to represent 3.6%, on average, of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) , the Annual total value of goods and services, by 2060, if current trends continue.

The total costs of obesity are projected to double in Spain and increase 19-fold in India over the next 40 years.

Rising costs

Between 1975 and 2016, the prevalence of obesity increased in every country in the world. It is a factor in more than 5 million deaths from non-infectious diseases each year, more than half of which are among those under 70 years of age.

Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain and Thailand were chosen to reflect different geographic regions and income levels, using the "cost of the disease" for 28 diseases known to be associated with obesity to estimate the economic impact of overweight (body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 kg / m 2 in adults) and obesity (BMI of 30 kg / m 2 and more) –

Direct costs included medical and non-medical costs: travel and time required to receive care. Indirect costs included financial losses from premature death and lost productivity.

The costs of long-term disability and early retirement, as well as those associated with ‘weight bias’, such as lower academic performance and less likelihood of promotion, were excluded as they were not feasible to measure in all countries .

In 2019, they calculated that the total per capita cost of obesity ranged from US $ 17 in India to US $ 940 in Australia, which is equivalent to 1.76% of GDP, on average, in all 8 countries, but from 0.8% in India to 2.4% in Saudi Arabia. The annual GDP growth rate in 2019 averaged 1.6% among the 8 countries, varying from -0.12% in Mexico to 5% in India.

Still, the researchers acknowledge several limitations of their study, including that estimates of the future prevalence of obesity assume that historical and current trends related to age, sex, and nutrition will continue, while excluding changes, such as technological advances or medical advances in the treatment or prevention of obesity .