HealthDay News — The estimated economic impact of obesity is considerable across countries, with costs comparable to 1.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on average in 2019 across eight countries representing different geographic regions and income levels, according to a study published online Nov. 4 in BMJ Global Health.

Adeyemi Okunogbe, M.D., from RTI International in Washington, D.C., and colleagues used a cost-of-illness approach to estimate the economic impacts of overweight and obesity for eight countries. From 2019 to 2060, the direct and indirect costs of obesity were estimated from a societal perspective.

The researchers found that the costs of obesity in per-capita terms ranged from $17 in India to $940 in Australia in 2019. On average, these economic costs are comparable to 1.8 percent of GDP across the eight countries, ranging from 0.8 to 2.4 percent of GDP in India and Saudi Arabia, respectively. With no significant changes to the status quo, the economic impacts from obesity are projected to increase to 3.6 percent of GDP on average by 2060, ranging from 2.4 to 4.9 percent of GDP in Spain and Thailand, respectively. Between 2020 and 2060, across the eight countries, an average annual reduction of 5.2 and 13.2 percent in economic costs would be seen by reducing obesity prevalence by 5 percent or keeping it at 2019 levels, respectively.

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“The findings of this study will be helpful to further strengthen political commitment for national obesity control efforts in these countries,” the authors write. “This is greatly needed to achieve levels of investment commensurate to the economic impact.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Novo Nordisk, which partially funded the study.

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