10 October 2017

$1.2 trillion annually, is the estimated cost of obesity by 2025, unless proper action is taken

The cost of treating consequences of obesity around the world will top $1.2 trillion every year from 2025, unless more is done to check the epidemic, says the World Obesity Federation (WOF) as the world is getting ready to celebrate the third World Obesity Day on Wednesday 11 October.

Basic Facts

On this occasion, WOF publishes basic data on obesity:

  1. The number of adults suffering from overweight and obesity continues to rise. On current trends, 2.7 billion adults worldwide will suffer from overweight and obesity by 2025 (according to the World Health Organization - WHO, every year 2.6 million people die from the consequences of obesity and overweight [read]);

  2. Obesity hits particularly hard North America, Europe and Oceania and is on the increase everywhere in the world, including in middle and low income countries;

  3. Obesity is responsible for a significant proportion of non-communicable diseases including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and many types of cancer;

  4. The medical bill for treating diseases that follow directly from obesity is expected to reach $1.2 trillion per year by 2025, unless obesity is being tackled (this figure also includes costs related to damage to joints due to obesity which may result in hip and knee replacements and back pain);

  5. Investing in the prevention, management and treatment of obesity can help achieve the 2025 targets set by the WHO to halt the rise in obesity and to achieve a 25% relative reduction in mortality from non-communicable diseases;

  6. In 2014, $470 billion were spent on cardiovascular diseases, $398 billion on diabetes, $350 billion on depression, $300 billion on non-alcoholic liver diseases and $166 billion on new cancer cases.

The US faces by far the biggest treatment bill, with a rise from $325 billion per year in 2014 to $555 billion in eight years’ time, partly because of the high cost of medical care in the US. But all countries are looking at a very steep rise in costs that will be unaffordable for most. In the UK, the bill is set to rise from $19bn to $31bn per year in 2025. In France it will also increase rapidly (see diagramme below).

What should be done?

According to the WOF:

  1. Invest in treatment services (including health insurance coverage and the creation of specialised medical teams) to support people affected by obesity;

  2. Invest in early intervention (including free health consultations, training of health professionals, weight management services) to improve the success of treatment;

  3. Invest in prevention to reduce the need for treatment (including education, access to affordable healthy food, active leisure).

In addition, taxes on unhealthy foods (rich in sugar and fat) can also prove successful [read here and here].


To know more:

  1. World Health Organization, Obesity, Webpage.

  2. S. Boseley, Global cost of obesity-related illness to hit $1.2tn a year from 2025, The Guardian, 2017

  3. WHO Regional Office for Europe, Using price policies to promote healthier diets, WHO, 2015

Earlier articles on related to the topic:

  1. Facts and figures on world hunger, 2017

  2. Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Tan Zhai Gen, Sweetened Research, Sugared Recommendations, 2017

  3. Reducing sugar consumption, overweight and related diseases, 2015

  4. Price policies can help promote healthier diets: the example of Europe, 2015

  5. Food, Environment and Health, 2014

  6. United Kingdom: a study demonstrates the failure of the British food system, 2014

  7. A. MacMillan, Some_brave_new_thinking_on_food_management.pdf, 2014


Last update:    October 2017

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