Poorer countries at risk: Rising obesity worldwide is slowing down the economy

The number of people with obesity is increasing.

Poorer countries at risk: Rising obesity worldwide is slowing down the economy

The number of people with obesity is increasing. Almost two-thirds of adults worldwide are already overweight. This not only has health consequences. According to a recent study, economic development is also at risk.

According to a study, the growing proportion of obese people in the world population has significant economic effects. The increase in obesity will reduce global gross domestic product (GDP) by 3.3 percent by 2060 and hamper the development of low-income countries, according to the study, which was published in the journal "BMJ Global Health" and published on the sidelines of the UN general debate in New York.

"Nearly two-thirds of adults worldwide are currently overweight and obese," said study author Rachel Nugent of the US research institute RTI International in New York. It can be expected that by 2060 this proportion will rise to three quarters of adults worldwide. This phenomenon is currently reducing global economic output by 2.2 percent annually. According to Nugent, the greatest impacts are to be feared in countries with low resources.

Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more are considered obese. Adults with a BMI of 25 or more are defined as overweight. Obesity can contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and various types of cancer.

The study contains specific forecasts for the development of obesity in individual countries. In absolute figures, the greatest economic damage is to be expected in China, the USA and India. China will cost an estimated $10 trillion to develop by 2060, the US will have to budget $2.5 trillion in damage and India $850 billion.

In proportion to economic output, however, the expected damage is likely to be highest in the United Arab Emirates and the Caribbean state of Trinidad and Tobago, the study continues. Obesity will reduce GDP by 11 percent in the Emirates by 2060 and by 10.2 percent in Trinidad and Tobago.

Unlike previous studies, the calculations take into account not only the direct costs of obesity, such as medical costs, but also indirect costs such as premature death and loss of productivity. These consequences also hampered the development of poor countries. "We could evolve and grow faster and improve people's livelihoods if we didn't have this form of lower productivity and earlier mortality," Nugent said.

On the other hand, according to Nugent, the growth of the economy in developing and emerging countries also contributes to the increase in obesity. In rich industrialized countries, the aging of the population contributes to the increase in obesity.

Francesco Branca from the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized in New York that there are a number of measures to combat overweight and obesity and their consequences. For example, high-fat and high-sugar drinks and food could be priced higher. Better labeling of fattening products and strengthening prevention measures and advice could also reduce the problem.

The head of the Mexican Research Center for Nutrition and Health, Simón Barquera, pointed out that, according to the study, the problem is not due to individual behavior but to social and commercial aspects. "We need to recognize that obesity is a complex disease with complex interactions and solutions, and stop blaming individuals for these conditions," he said. Policy makers around the world must "stop the stigma".

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