Obesity leads to 5% of global deaths each year and its economic impact accounts for about 2.8% of global GDP – or $2trn, this latest research reveals. Only smoking, and armed conflict, war and terrorism cost more, at about $2.1trn each per year.
“To make a positive contribution to tackling obesity, food and beverage manufacturers, retailers, food-service providers, and restaurants will need to deploy a wide range of interventions including portion control, reformulation, adapting price promotion and marketing practices, and introducing best-in-class labelling,” the report said.
The paper, Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis, assessed 44 interventions being discussed or piloted to address obesity around the world, including subsidised school meals for all, calorie and nutrition labelling, restrictions on advertising high-calorie food and drinks, and public health campaigns.
“Existing evidence indicates that no single intervention is likely to have a significant overall impact,” MGI said. However, it added that every intervention identified was cost effective for society.
Looking at the UK in particular, the report suggested that media restrictions and portion control were among the most cost-effective options for reducing obesity. If the UK government put into place all the suggested interventions, the report claimed the nation's rising obesity rate could be reversed, and about 20% of overweight and obese people would return to the normal weight category within five to ten years.
The full report is available to download here.