MOSCOW, November 20 (Sputnik) — Obesity costs the global economy $2 trillion, just a little under the cost of armed violence, war and terrorism or smoking, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) said in a report Thursday.
"Obesity is responsible for about 5 percent of all deaths a year worldwide, and its global economic impact amounts to roughly $2 trillion annually, or 2.8 percent of global GDP — nearly equivalent to the global impact of smoking or of armed violence, war, and terrorism," which are estimated at $2.1 trillion each, the report published on the institute's website stated.
"These three are far and away the largest global economic impact areas driven by human behavior," the report stressed.
Based on the findings, obesity accounted for up to 7 percent of health-care spending around the world. This expense did not include treating obesity-associated diseases, which took the cost of up to 20 percent.
"In the United Kingdom, for instance, obesity has the second-largest impact after smoking, generating an economic loss of more than $70 billion a year in 2012," the study said, adding that in the United States obesity was the second-largest impact worth $663 billion a year in 2012, after military spending.
According to the report, 2.1 billion people, which is nearly 30 percent of the world's population, are overweight or obese. This surpasses the number of those undernourished by two and a half times.
Given this trend, the report titled "Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis", speculates that by 2030 almost half of the world's people will be obese or overweight.
Using the United Kingdom as an example, the study suggests that countries should implement measures that work systematically and involve every area of public life.
"Our research suggests that an ambitious, comprehensive, and sustained portfolio of initiatives by national and local governments, retailers, consumer-goods companies, restaurants, employers, media organizations, educators, health-care providers, and individuals is likely to be necessary to support broad behavioral change," the report said.
In the United Kingdom, though so far insufficient, such interventions have already reduced the economic burden on the National Health Service (NHS) by $1.2 billion a year.