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Report finds obesity costs UK £98Bn a year

8th Dec 2023 - 06:00
Report finds obesity costs UK £98Bn a year
The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has unveiled its ‘Fit for the Future: A Fair Deal on Food for a Healthier Britain’ report, which emphasised that without Government action growth will continue to be hampered by the rising cost of obesity.

The UK has one of the highest obesity rates in Europe with almost three-quarters of people between the ages of 45 and 74 in England considered overweight or obese. In 1970 only one in ten British adults had obesity, compared to one in three today.

Obesity has several impacts on individuals, including an increased risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and cancer. Overweight was defined as individuals having a body-mass index of between 25 and 29.9 and obesity was defined as having a BMI over 30.

Previous estimates of the economic cost of obesity in the UK (2020) put the annual figure at £58Bn, which is equivalent to about 3% of gross domestic product (GDP). Updated estimates suggest the cost of obesity spiralled to £98Bn, equivalent to almost 4% of GDP.

A spokesperson for The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change commented: “The overall cost is set to rise further. The UK’s ageing population, plus expected increases in the incidences of obesity, suggest that costs could increase by at least 10% in real terms between now and 2040.

“Moreover, the UK’s high and rising rates of childhood obesity and overweight are a harbinger of future problems. These spiralling costs will inevitably mean an ever-increasing tax burden, lower productivity and additional Government expenditure just to maintain the status quo. This is unsustainable.

“To put the UK on a better path, the Government must reimagine its approach to economic growth and recognise that early intervention to help address the UK’s obesity crisis will not only result in a healthier population but also support that growth.”

Written by
Edward Waddell