Saturday, March 14, 2015

Economic impact of obesity

Came across an interesting paper published by the Mckinsey Global institute titled “Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis”. It makes for a very good read on the economic impact of obesity on the world! Some alarming statistics – 30% of the world is now either overweight or obese that too by the lenient WHO standards of having a BMI of 25 or higher! (If you follow the stricter standards of Singapore’s Health promotion board then for Asians, they classify BMI above 23 to be overweight already. That will bring up the number quite a bit!)

The economic impact of world obesity is now estimated to be 2.0 Trillion USD per annum. The estimate is based on loss of economic productivity, costs to healthcare systems and investment required to mitigate the impact of obesity.

Mckinsey Global Institute - Overcoming obesity

It is actually at par with the other social evils (like Wars and Terrorism) that get a lot of media coverage. I am appalled, amazed and amused because whenever I read such reports, I think of the future as shown in Wall-E the Pixar movie. I have embedded the clip for your viewing pleasure. When I saw it for the first time, rather than finding it funny, I felt it was more of what the future is really going to be!

Wall-E Obese People

Another interesting topic is that it details an exhaustive list of 74 different types of interventions in 18 categories such as – Healthy meals, Labelling, Media restrictions, Parental education, Portion control, Public-health campaigns etc. that can help control the rise of obesity. However, the paper also states that it requires multiple sets of interventions to be simultaneously applied to help have an effect. As someone who has actively struggled with weight control all my life, I can identify with most of the interventions.

So if you are bored (or interested) I highly recommend reading the paper (or atleast the executive summary). And finally, if it got you scared, then I would love to share this long but amazingly written article about food by Michael Pollan titled “Unhappy Meals” (written more than 8 years ago, but still my favourite read for nutrition and portion control!).

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