Global cost of obesity at US$2 trillion

McKinsey Global Institute said in a report that 2.1 billion people – about 30 per cent of the global population– were overweight or obese

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LONDON // The global cost of obesity has risen to $2 trillion (Dh7.3 trillion) annually – nearly as much as smoking or the combined impact of armed violence, war and terrorism.

McKinsey Global Institute, in a report released on Thursday, put the impact of obesity at 2.8 per cent of global gross domestic product.

The company said 2.1 billion people – about 30 per cent of the global population– were overweight or obese and that about 15 per cent of health care costs in developed economies were driven by it.

The study focused on the economics of obesity, placing it among the top three social programmes generated by human beings.

“Obesity isn’t just a health issue,” said one of the report’s authors, Richard Dobbs. “But it’s a major economic and business challenge.”

In emerging markets, as countries get richer, the rate of obesity rises to the same level as that found in more developed countries. The report, released on Thursday, predicts that nearly half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030 if present trends continue.

The authors argue that efforts to deal with obesity have been piecemeal until now, and that a systemic response is needed.

McKinsey said there was no single or simple solution to the problem, but global disagreement on how to move forward was hurting progress. The analysis is meant to offer a starting point on the elements of a possible strategy.

“We see our work on a potential programme to address obesity as the equivalent of the maps used by 16th-century navigators,” McKinsey said in its report. “Some islands were missing and some continents misshapen in these maps, but they were still helpful to the sailors of that era.”

* Associated Press