Report Finds that Overweight People Costs the World $2 Trillion a Year


A recent McKinsey report finds that the world’s population of overweight people is not only increasing, but the impact of fat people costs the world around $2 trillion a year.

Richard Dobbs is head of the McKinsey Global Institute, a management consulting firm, and one of the authors of the study which found that the world is growing fatter faster than the fastest developing economy. “It seems that many of the emerging markets that are on this phenomenally fast growth trajectory are on an even faster obesity trajectory,” says Dobbs.

The report found that almost 30 percent of the world’s population, around 2.1 billion people, range from overweight to obese. The United States still has the highest obesity rate in the world at 34.9 percent, but you might be surprised to know that the next four countries on the “fattest” list include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and South Africa.

But it’s the massive impact that obesity has on the world that should concern everyone. The report estimates that up to $2 trillion is lost every year because of obesity. The researchers factored in the global costs for fighting obesity-related diseases like Type II diabetes, but also all the lost productivity obesity causes. Dobbs explained:

“People suffering from obesity often work less. They have to take more time off sick. They retire early or even die early.”

It’s a pretty huge financial impact over a very preventable issue, but the report details that while solving the problem takes more than eating right and exercising, “fat shaming” obesity, as many would be inclined to do, is always the wrong direction to take.

“This is a massive global economic issue … It’s largely been left to the health people but actually it’s having a huge economic effect and there really hasn’t been a systematic view of how to address it.”

By systematic, Dobbs refers to measures taken in every aspect of our lives, like how cheap, tasty food is labelled and marketed to how the cultures of developing countries should shift to more active lifestyles.

“The challenge we have with addressing obesity is we are fighting thousands of years of evolution … Our bodies have a natural inclination to want to horde energy when we have it available. [We want] to horde food and to horde fat.”

The report ended with 74 different forms of intervention to combat obesity, one of which is as simple as changing the food you keep in the fridge and put in your body.

Source: NPR

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