Global health costs related to obesity are believed to rack up about $2 trillion each year – nearly 3 percent of the world’s total GDP – according to a report published recently by McKinsey Global Instituteconsulting firm.
The report estimates about 2.1 billion people, or nearly 30 percent of the world’s population, are either overweight or obese. Up to 20 percent of health care costs in some developed countries are attributed to treating obesity or associated complications, according to the report.
The future of weight management doesn’t look much lighter, at least in the next few decades. TheCenters for Disease Control and Prevention in September estimated about 35 percent of Americans were overweight or obese in 2014. In a best case scenario for American health, that number could still balloon to 42 percent of the country by 2050, according to a 2010 study jointly published by Harvard and MIT.
The number of overweight or obese people in the world has nearly tripled since 1980’s 857 million, according to Bloomberg and The Lancet medical journal. The obesity study published last month in The Lancet, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conducted independently of McKinsey Global Institute’s report, also set the world’s obesity benchmark at 2.1 billion people.
“Since 1980, no country has made significant progress in reducing the rates of people being overweight or obese,” study author Prof. Christopher Murray said, according to Bloomberg. “Obesity is now a major public health epidemic in both the developed and the developing world.”
And, although America accounts for about 5 percent of the global population, the report estimates the U.S. is home to roughly 13 percent of the world’s overweight and obese individuals, according to NBC News. China and India combined make up 15 percent of the world’s weighty population.
But a bigger waistline does not necessarily give Americans fatter pockets. Health complications tied to obesity, including diabetes and heart disease, account for a significant portion of America’s annual health care costs, according to the McKinsey Global Institute report.
“In the United States, the direct cost of obesity to the health care system is estimated to be between $174 billion and $190 billion each year – or about 7 percent of total annual health care spending,” according to the report. “Per capita medical spending is 24 percent higher for obese individuals than for those who are not obese.”
McKinsey Global Institute estimates type 2 diabetes – a metabolic disorder often linked to obesity – has skyrocketed during the last few decades. A reported 30 million cases were diagnosed worldwide in 1985, compared to 382 million in 2013. It’s estimated that global costs associated with diabetes account for up to $672 billion, or 12 percent of the world’s health care spending.
The CDC in 2012 predicted the number of type 2 diabetes cases in Americans younger than 20 years old would increase by 49 percent by 2050, according to the American Diabetes Association.
“Our children are getting fatter,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in May of childhood obesity rates rising around the world, according to Al Jazeera. “Parts of the world are quite literally eating themselves to death.”