The Economic Burden of Obesity is Heavy!

According to the World Health Organization, cases of obesity have nearly tripled since 1975. Today, obesity and its accompanying diseases cause 4 million deaths worldwide each year. Obesity is a complex disease that increases health care costs. With this feature, it both shortens the lifespan of individuals and increases the economic burden of countries.

Studies show that 70 percent of the world’s 2 billion overweight and obese individuals live in low- or middle-income countries. However, until recently, obesity was seen as a health problem specific to high-income countries. Economic authorities, including the World Bank, are warning low and middle-income countries about the rapidly increasing obesity figures. In fact, it is predicted that in the next 15 years, obesity and its co-morbidities will cause a total cost of more than 7 trillion dollars in developing countries.

This warning also supports the ‘Obesity and the Economics of Prevention’ report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), announced last November. In its report, the OECD stated that approximately 90 million people in member countries will die in the next 30 years due to obesity-related health problems. In addition, it was reported that the treatment of obesity-related diseases in these countries constituted 8.4 percent of the total health expenditures, and it was determined that obese individuals made approximately 2.5 times more health expenditures than those of normal weight.

It will be necessary to allocate a budget for obesity-related diseases

Turkey is among the top 10 countries to allocate the most budget for obesity-related diseases between the years 2020-2050. It is predicted that 12 percent of health expenditures in our country will be allocated to diseases related to obesity. This means a cost of $99 per person.

The countries that will allocate the most budget to obesity-related diseases between 2020-2050 are as follows (per capita/dollar)

1- United States: $644

2- Germany: 411 dollars

3- Canada: $295

4- Italy: $234

5- Spain: $226

6- Australia: $207

7- United Kingdom: $188

8- France: 148 dollars

9- Russia: 101 dollars

10- Turkey: 99 dollars

Over the past 30 years, 462 million cardiovascular and 212 million diabetes cases have occurred due to overweight. In 2050, 92 million people are expected to die earlier from obesity-related diseases.

Why are the numbers soaring?

Unfortunately, as countries grow economically and per capita income increases, so does the incidence of obesity. Factors that increase the obesity epidemic include processed and sugary foods and reduced physical activity.


  • 50% of people have an unhealthy diet

  • 40 percent lead a life that doesn’t cause them to move too much

  • 2 out of 5 people cannot reach fresh vegetables and fruits.

  • Over the next 30 years, being overweight is expected to result in 462 million new cases of cardiovascular disease and 212 million diabetes cases in 52 countries.

Low income is malnourished, high income does not act!

More than 820 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. Hunger rates are rising in nearly all sub-regions of Africa and to a lesser extent in Latin America and Western Asia. New research, published in the medical journal The Lancet, reveals that malnutrition and obesity are a common global problem going hand in hand. According to the study, 1 in 3 low- and middle-income countries have an increased risk of obesity due to junk food and sugary drinks, while people who lead a prosperous life do not move. The number of people who go to the closest distance with their private vehicle, who do their jobs without much effort due to the convenience of technology, and who lead an inactive life is quite high.

Decreased performance at school and work

Obesity is a problem that affects not only the individual but also society, because it reduces the quality of life at work and school. Studies reveal that overweight children perform lower in school compared to their healthy peers. One of the factors that play a role in dropping out of school is that the child encounters peer bullying due to their excess weight. Children aged 12-19, in particular, skip school more often than their healthy friends.

Again, according to the OECD report, people with chronic diseases related to obesity cannot go to work due to various health complaints. Diseases also reduce a person’s performance and productivity. The workforce of 54 million people is reduced annually due to excess weight.

In the light of all this information; We can say that obesity is not only a health problem and does not concern only the patient. I would also like to state that it is possible to contribute to the personal, national and global economy with obesity treatment.

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