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The Global Obesity Threat

The global obesity epidemic is not just a pressing health concern; it is also a threat to the world economy. The total economic impact of obesity is about $2 trillion a year, or 2.8% of world GDP – roughly equivalent to the damage caused by smoking or armed violence, war, and terrorism.

LONDON/MELBOURNE – In 2010, humanity passed an important milestone. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, obesity became a bigger public-health problem than hunger.

Today, according to the latest edition of the study, more than 2.1 billion people – nearly 30% of the global population – are overweight or obese. That is nearly two and a half times the number of adults and children who are undernourished. Obesity is responsible for about 5% of deaths worldwide.

This crisis is not just a pressing health concern; it is also a threat to the global economy. The total economic impact of obesity is about $2 trillion a year, or 2.8% of world GDP – roughly equivalent to the economic damage caused by smoking or armed violence, war, and terrorism, according to new research by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI).

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