How obesity weighs the global economy down

In the long list of side-effects that obesity comes with – infertility, depression, heart ailments, arthritis – this may come as a surprise addition. The latest victim of heedless burger-chomping and no-exercising could be the global economy.

Yes, you heard right. The sky rocketing number of fat people possibly have the same effect on our resources as Greece, inflation and most other financial disasters. In fact, a recent study published by the BBC says that the rising number of obese people in the world will affect the world’s resources as much as another billion people would. And this would be one crisis the Americas might not have an answer to.

Obesity can be bad news for the economy. Representative image. Reuters.

The study conducted by London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine calculated the approximate total weight of the planet and found that North America had the highest average.

The BBC report says, the researchers pegged the ‘the weight of the global population at 287 million tonnes. They estimate that 15 million tonnes of this mass is due to people being overweight, and 3.5 million tonnes due to obesity’.

"If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the USA, in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass," said Professor Ian Roberts of the health institute, whose original study was published in the BMC Public Health magazine.

The study added that petrol consumption and the usage of cars are also related to this phenomenon. It said that people are overweight in Arab countries is because they mostly travel in cars leading to sloth in their bodies and bad metabolism.

However, concerns about the number of obese people shooting up have been raised earlier too. Mike Adams, editor of, had written in a 2004 article that, “The costs of obesity go far beyond individual costs -- they extend to the nation as a whole. Why? Because many of the health care procedures performed in the United States are paid for by taxpayer dollars. Even when such medical costs are covered under private insurance, that insurance is paid for by other members of the public, making it a burden that must be carried by the general public, and not just the individual who is incurring these costs.”

A research published by Australia based Medibank Health Solutions also pegs the losses incurred by the economy due to obesity at a few millions.

So the next sale season, walk past the branded clothes shop and get a treadmill instead!

Updated Date: Jun 18, 2012 14:30 PM

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