In its latest report, released Thursday, March 2, the Global Obesity Federation warns that more than half of the world’s population (51%) will be overweight or obese by 2035.
While there are currently 2.6 billion people in this category, the number is expected to exceed 4 billion in just 11 years unless immediate steps are taken to address the problem.
global economic impact of Overweight and obesity will reach $4.32 trillion a year by 2035 if prevention and treatment efforts do not improve. ????
— World Obesity (@WorldObesity) March 2, 2023
The World Obesity Atlas, published by the International Obesity Federation, calls for taxes and restrictions on the production of “unhealthy” foods, as well as restrictions on the marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.
The federation is pushing for healthy food to be served in schools, in particular, because obesity is growing fastest among children and adolescents.
In fact, obesity rates among boys under the age of 18 are expected to rise by a whopping 100%. and girls of the same age, an increase of 125%.
As a result, 383 million people under the age of 18 worldwide will be at risk for many of the health problems associated with being overweight, more than double what is currently classified as overweight or obese.
Overweight or obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) value greater than 25 kg/m2.
The report warns that nine out of ten countries facing the biggest increase in obesity are poor or middle-income countries in Asia and Africa that are ill-equipped to deal with the problem, including the Central African Republic, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea. and Somalia.
The report points out that rising obesity rates will reduce life expectancy and increase the burden on healthcare, the union says, warning that the global cost of rising obesity rates is expected to rise to $4.3 trillion by 2035. or the equivalent of 3% of GDP. This number is roughly equal to the economic damage caused by the response of governments to the Covid-19 epidemic.
The cost of being overweight in a population depends on the extent to which higher BMI contributes to the development of 38 diseases. These major comorbidities of obesity include various cancers, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver and kidney disease.
In addition to the costs associated with these health conditions, unemployment, long-term disability, and early retirement are also associated with obesity and comorbidities. It is important to note that the global economic impacts of obesity estimated in the Global Obesity Atlas report do not take into account how these factors may also increase national spending, indicating that the growing obesity epidemic is likely to be more costly than current estimates predict. .
In addition to the widespread availability and affordability of unhealthy processed foods, the Global Obesity Federation blames climate change, Covid-19 policies, “new epidemics” and chemical pollutants for the world’s growing weight gain.
The report calls on governments to develop “comprehensive national action plans” to prevent catastrophic obesity, similar to the World Health Organization’s recommendations for the prevention and treatment of obesity.
Despite the many health and economic implications associated with rising obesity, there is still a lack of federal and international funding that prioritizes the prevention and treatment of obesity. Thus, there is an urgent need to increase public funding for relevant health priorities, which could be in the form of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and to address some of the many environmental factors that can similarly increase the risk of obesity.