Obesity-related costs might account for 3.6 percent of GDP by 2060

obesity cost the economy
What will the economic burden of obesity be in 2060?
  • Obesity’s economic consequences is the subject of a recent research.
  • Obesity-related expenses are expected to account for 3.6 percent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2060, according to this study.
  • Maintaining current obesity rates or reducing prevalence by 5% from forecast levels might save some nations up to a third of their annual expenses.

Obesity is linked to increased healthcare expenses and a worse quality of life, as well as disability and early death.

Obesity is currently responsible for more than 5 million deaths worldwide each year.

Obesity grew in every nation around the world between 1975 and 2016, according to a recent observational research published in BMJ Global Health. According to current projections, if this pace persists, the situation will have a direct impact on the world economy.

In 2019, researchers from the Research Triangle Institute in Washington, D.C., and the World Obesity Federation in London assessed the impact of obesity on a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). After that, they computed the predicted cost growth by 2060.

According to the Bank of England, GDP “measures the size of a country’s economy.”

The researchers concentrated their investigation on eight countries: Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, and Thailand.

Obesity’s current and future consequences

They discovered that medical costs account for 90% of all direct expenditures associated to obesity in the eight nations studied.

Furthermore, informal caregiving currently accounts for 90% of nonmedical direct expenditures, whereas early death accounts for 56–92% of total indirect costs linked with obesity.

Looking at specific nations, the cost of obesity per capita in 2019 ranged from $17 in India to $940 in Australia. Overall, these costs amount to 1.76 percent of GDP on average.

India now has the lowest cost per capita at 0.8 percent, while Saudi Arabia has the highest cost per capita at 2.4 percent.

The estimated rate of rise per nation by 2060 reflects the dramatic diversity in current national expenses.

Obesity expenses in the eight nations are anticipated to climb at varied rates, regardless of present positions. For example, the researchers predict a 19-fold increase in obesity-related expenses in India, while rates will treble in Spain.

Obesity-related expenses are expected to rise to 3.6 percent of GDP on average by 2060, with costs varying from 2.4 percent in Spain to 4.9 percent in Thailand.

By 2060, the following health implications are expected

To assist anticipate the expenses associated with obesity, the researchers chose 28 health problems that have strong correlations to fat.

The study’s co-author and vice president of RTI International, Dr. Rachel Nugent, Ph.D., spoke with Medical News Today about it. We wanted to know which diseases were most likely to have a substantial influence on obesity’s economic impact.

“Diabetes — alone and with comorbidities — and hypertensive heart disease are two of the most critical,” Dr. Nugent said. A large portion of “the health burden [is] attributed to excessive BMI” in each of these cases.

“Cardiovascular illness, malignancies, chronic respiratory diseases, musculoskeletal problems, endocrine diseases, sense organ diseases, chronic renal disease, neurological and digestive diseases,” said Dr. Nugent, who also listed the other disease categories that the researchers looked at.

According to the study’s authors, “by 2060, obesity will affect about 57 percent of the population in India and approximately 93 percent of the population in Saudi Arabia.”

Given that India has the lowest obesity rate in the world, these figures are directly proportional to the country’s projected 19-fold rise in GDP by 2060.

Turning the tide
The researchers propose two cost-cutting scenarios based on either a future drop in obesity rates or a 2019 rate stability.

Between 2021 and 2060, an average yearly cost savings of 5.18 percent across the eight nations would be possible if obesity incidence fell by 5% from forecast levels in 2060.

Furthermore, assuming obesity rates were absolutely unchanged over the next several decades, countries could save an average of 13.18 percent every year.

Observational research

The authors of the report point out many flaws in their research data that might have caused them to underestimate or overstate the global economic effect of obesity in the future.

Because illness loads and economic growth rates differ greatly among nations, the real cost-saving or cost-increasing implications of altering obesity levels remain unknown.

Furthermore, while obesity is a global problem, future technology and medical improvements that lengthen life or reduce illness rates might have a significant impact on the future estimations cited in this study.

During the continuing COVID-19 epidemic, Dr. Nugent also spoke with MNT about the dangers of obesity:

“Over 5 million fatalities were attributed to obesity in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, throughout the globe from a variety of noncommunicable illnesses, including stroke, asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.”

“As the world began to grapple with the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” she continued, “it quickly became clear that those living with obesity were at higher risk for hospitalization, poorer outcomes, and death. Obesity is a disease that does not receive adequate prioritization relative to its growing prevalence and impact as a risk factor for noncommunicable diseases and, as we are now acutely aware, infectious disease.”