The UK spends nearly £47 billion a year on healthcare and social costs for the overweight, study says

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Image: Obesity is costing the country more than war

Pink Sherbert Photography / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: pinksherbet 

More than 2.1 billion people around the world are overweight or obese (that’s nearly 30% of the global population) and in the UK the problem is costing vast amounts of money, according to new research.

The study, which was conducted by consultancy firm McKinsey and Company, said that obesity is now the second largest human-generated economic burden on the UK (behind smoking) and it is costing the country nearly £47bn a year.


The report, which is now calling for restaurants and manufacturers to address what it calls a "crisis", says: “Obesity is a major global economic problem caused by a multitude of factors.


“Today obesity is jostling with armed conflict and smoking in terms of having the greatest human-generated global economic impact.


“The global economic impact of obesity is increasing. The evidence suggests that the economic and societal impact of obesity is deep and lasting.”


At the moment, the UK spends less than £638 million a year on measures to prevent obesity but about £6 billion a year on conditions related to being overweight.


So, what’s their solution? Well, the study has come up with a few ideas to help reduce the cost of obesity. These include:

  • Investing in parental education
  • Introducing healthy meals into schools and the workplace
  • Adding more exercise classes to the school curriculum
  • Introducing more bike lanes to encourage people to cycle

Which of these proposed solutions do you think would help? Share your ideas below