Obesity: preventative measures could see healthly economic return
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    Obesity: preventative measures could see healthly economic return

    Countries like the United States devote 14% of their health budget to obesity, overweight and associated diseases, Germany 11% and France about 5%. Credit: Pixabay

    Investments in the prevention of obesity could see economic returns for countries due to a drop in the need for more expensive treatments, OECD said in a report on 52 countries released on Thursday. 

    Obesity is a cause of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. It reduces life expectancy and is very expensive to treat. As such,  prevention pays off: with each dollar spent generating up to six dollars return on investment, according to the analysis by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

    Excess weight is responsible for an average of 70% of all diabetes treatment costs, 23% of cardiovascular disease and 9% of cancer in the 36 OECD member countries, which makes projections for three decades. Treating overweight-related illnesses costs the 52 countries analysed a total of 425 billion dollars per year. 

    By 2050, 92 million premature deaths due to obesity-related diseases are expected to occur in countries of the OECD, G20 and the EU’s 28, the report said. 

    Over three decades (2020-2050), the reduction in life expectancy linked to overweight will have the most impact in Mexico (4.2 years lost), closely followed by Russia and Poland (3.9 years ) and the USA (3.7). France (2.3 years) is just below the almost three years of the EU’s projected average (2.9) and of OECD (2.7). 

    More than 50% of the population of 34 countries among the 36 OECD members is overweight and almost one in four is obese. 

    Obesity average rates of adults in OECD countries increased from 21% in 2010 to 24% in 2016, so that 50 million people are now obese. In 2016, adult obesity was 27.8% in the UK, 23.8% in Spain, 24.9% in Greece and below the EU average in Belgium (21.1% ) and France (21.6%). 

    Countries like the United States devote 14% of their health budget to obesity, overweight and associated diseases, Germany 11% and France about 5%. 

    This means, for example, for the USA, Germany and the Netherlands, 645, 411 and 352 USD respectively per capita per year, taking into account purchasing power disparities. This annual expenditure projection is valued at 148 USD for France. The average stood at 209 USD for OECD countries and 195 USD for the EU-28. 

    OECD, which calls for more effective action to curb the epidemic of obesity and overweight, makes several suggestions to achieve this. For instance, calorie reduction by 20% in foods high in sugar, salt, calories and saturated fats could prevent by 2050 1.1 million cases of chronic disease annually, according to an analysis that included 42 countries.

    This reduction of health expenditure would save 13.2 billion USD a year and cause a 0.5% annual increase in GDP.

    The Brussels Times